Town bow out of the FA Youth Cup with an honourable displayTown XI - Atkinson, Sears, Jones, Hughes, Bonner, Roberts, Barnett, Rammell (Ofori 76’), Hassall (Higgs 82’), Gallagher, Gilpin.
Subs - Higgs, Gregory, Ofori, Lovett, Kerins
Sunderland XI - Woud, Gamble, Krusnell, Allan, Taylor, Storey, Asoro (Diamond 56’), Embleton, Connelly, Maja (Mbunga-Kimpioka 82’), Hackett (McAughtrie 87’).
Subs - Young, Patterson, Mbunga-Kimpioka, McAughtrie, Diamond.
Town’s Under-18s travelled north for their fourth round FA Youth Cup tie with Premier League Sunderland.
The team would have been full of confidence having beaten Fleetwood 3-2 in the league earlier in the week, as well as beating Wolverhampton Casuals, Rochdale and Accrington Stanley on route to the fourth round.
Town were not overawed by their Premier League opposition and the first chance fell to Ryan Barnett, who turned his marker with a nice piece of skill and broke into the area, only to have his low shot saved by Michael Woud in the Sunderland goal.
However, it was Sunderland who opened the scoring in the tenth minute. Joel Asoro turned away from his marker and played a through ball to Lee Connelly who controlled well and slotted passed an oncoming Jack Atkinson.
Town did not let the goal dampen their spirits, and although the home side dominated possession, Town’s back four were equal to their attacks and Town’s wingers were looked dangerous on the break.
Town’s hard work eventually paid off on the half hour mark as George Hassall struck. Chris Gallagher won the ball in the middle of the park after Hassall’s knock down, and played a low ball out to Aaron Gilpin on the left wing. Gilpin’s floated cross was then met by an unmarked Hassall who headed into the top corner to equalise for Town.
Town then had Atkinson to thank as he saved well with his feet to deny a Chris Allan header. Though following their goal Town grew in confidence and began to match their opponents in midfield.
The final chance of the half came as Barnett collected Gilpin’s cross, cut inside and whipped in a ball of his own which curled goalward only for Woud to tip it wide.
Town began the second half the better of the two sides as they build on the solid foundations they had made in the first half. Though Jacob Rammell did pick up a booking early on for a cynical challenge on Connelly.
Sunderland took the lead again in the 56th minute as Connelly picked up the ball unmarked in the Town area and slotted home after Callum Roberts had earlier denied Josh Maja from scoring.
Sunderland doubled their lead in the 74th minute as substitute Jack Diamond fired in over Atkinson. Diamond scored after being played in by Connelly, as a devastating counter attack left Sears defending alone.
At this point the game really stretched as Town poured bodies forward, though there weren’t any clear chances to speak of until Town were awarded a penalty in the 89th minute.
Substitute Tyrone Ofori broke into the box before being felled from behind and it was Gallagher who stepped up for Town, only to have his effort saved brilliantly by Woud in the Sunderland goal.
The penalty save being the last moment of excitement in a game which Town more than matched their Premier League counterparts for large periods, and in truth deserved more from the tie.
Sunderland now advance into the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup where they will play derby rivals Newcastle.