YORK City saved their best pre-season performance for last as they despatched a Sunderland reserve side 3-0 at Bootham Crescent last night.

An excellent first-half display saw summer signing Michael Coulson bag a brace either side of an Ashley Chambers goal with all three strikes coming in the opening 27 minutes.

After the break, the Minstermen might have added to the scoreline but Jason Walker , Coulson and Lee Bullock were denied by the woodwork.

It was a purposeful display that made the Premier League youngsters look ordinary at times and will have given manager Gary Mills great encouragement ahead of Saturday’s Capital One Cup visit to Doncaster.

The Minstermen started in bright fashion with Paddy McLaughlin forcing the first save of the night after only 18 seconds following Jonathan Smith’s right-wing cross and, by the seventh minute, the hosts had forged in front.

Chambers’ forward pass was handled 20 yards from goal and, from the free-kick, Coulson curled a low shot around the Sunderland wall and into ’keeper Ben Wilson’s bottom left-hand corner.

Buoyed by his goal, Coulson then hooked an improvised effort over his head and narrowly wide from right-back Dan Parslow’s cross and called Wilson into action at his near post after riding two challenges from Black Cats defenders.

It was fellow winger Chambers, though, who doubled City’s advantage on 16 minutes when Wilson failed to keep out his volley from an unfavourable angle.

Jonathan Smith then dragged a 20-yard attempt off target before an outclassed Sunderland side produced a flowing move of their own, ending with Ryan Noble turning a low Blair Adams cross wide on 21 minutes.

The Minstermen continued to dictate, however, with Jonathan Smith, Coulson and McLaughlin all combining to carve out a chance for Chambers that was saved at his near post by Wilson.

But the visiting shot-stopper was beaten for a third time on 27 minutes when Jamal Fyfield ’s excellent cross from the left was headed past him by Coulson.

Moments later, Jonathan Smith saw a 20-yard shot deflected over while Fyfield headed wide at the far post from a Chambers’ cross.

The closest Sunderland came to scoring came at the end of the half when City skipper Chris Smith dribbled across his own goal-line and almost contrived to put through his own net after colliding into bemused ’keeper Michael Ingham .

Walker rattled the base of Wilson’s left-hand upright on 51 minutes with a 30-yard free-kick, awarded after the City striker had been shoved to the ground by Sunderland centre-back John Egan. At the other end, Billy Knott failed to take advantage of a favourable ricochet off Parslow when he elected to shoot early and wide from 18 yards.

Coulson, though, was denied a hat-trick when his deflected drive flicked off the outside of Wilson’s near post and the ex-Scarborough winger then delivered a corner that saw Bullock head powerfully against the crossbar from six yards.

A poorly-struck McLaughlin effort bounced wide for City on 74 minutes and Sunderland’s Noble summed up his team’s evening with a sliced edge-of-the-box effort before transfer-listed striker Liam Henderson might have added a fourth but his eight-yard shot was smothered by Wilson.

City: Ingham, Parslow, C Smith (Challinor, 75), Doig (Blanchett, 75), Fyfield, Bullock (Platt, 82), J Smith (Potts, 67), McLaughlin, Coulson (Reed, 76), Walker (Henderson, 83), Chambers (Johnson, 82). Subs (not used): Musselwhite.

Sunderland: Ben Wilson, Louis Laing, John Egan, David Ferguson, Blair Adams, Adie Mitchell (Roarie Deacon, 62), Adam Reed, Alejandro Gorrin, Craig Lynch, Ryan Noble, Billy Knott.

Attendance: 1,055 (114 from Sunderland).