Northumberland 1 beat Struggling Sunderland

Sunderland slipped to a fifth straight defeat, and will spend Christmas in the relegation zone, as they were comfortably beaten 4-1 by Northumberland.

Northumberland named their strongest five for the trip, while Sunderland were without the injured Simon Cliff, who was replaced by Jeff Stoker. Alex Storey also returned for the Wearsiders in place of Dave Lumsden.

Stoker began well in his first league appearance of the season, taking the first game against Ben Waugh. However, the Jesmond player fought back, showing superior fitness, to win the match 3-1.

The tie was level after Storey put in his best performance of the season to date, claiming a 3-1 win over Stephen Twaddle. At this point the home side may still have entertained some small hopes of an upset.

This was all but extinguished as Richie Hodges was edged out in a 5-set battle with James Worsnick. Hodges has struggled for form this season, following his move from Eldon, but picked up two valuable points in a strong display that should give him confidence for the second half.

The tie was then sealed for the visitors as Max Forster beat Peter McCleod 3-0. The youngster continues to impress this season, winning all eight of his matches, and only dropping two games. His speed was evident and there will be many in the North-East keen to follow his progression.

Dave Barnett then added three extra points for his side as he saw off Sunderland skipper Paul Dodsworth 3-1.

An 18-7 points split leaves Sunderland second bottom, 13 points from safety, and needing another impressive second half to survive. After opening up a 20 point cushion three games in the first half has unraveled for the Mackems, and they will need a big change in fortune for 2018.

Northumberland now look comfortable in mid table, ending 2017 in fourth place.

The Premier League returns on the 11th of January.

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