Report: Sunderland U18 4-1 Burton Albion U18

Sunderland under-18s produced a ruthless display against Burton Albion to come from behind and book their place in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.

Charlie Dowd left Eppleton Colliery Welfare stunned after just three minutes as he got in behind and confidently slammed the ball home.

The Black Cats grew into the contest and were behind for just 20 minutes as Josh Maja applied the touch to draw the tie level.

Luke Tandy then experienced a moment to forget as his attempt to cut out Maja’s through ball went horribly wrong and he ended up lobbing his own ‘keeper.

However, Sunderland didn’t look back from that moment and two goals in five second-half minutes, from Lee Connelly and Maja, saw the Black Cats safely through.

Fresh from featuring on the first-team bench less than 24 hours ago, Joel Asoro and Maja started to help make up a strong youth team.

Elliot Embleton was also named in the starting XI while second-year scholar Alex Storey captained the side from the heart of the defence.

Burton Albion showed a fearless nature in the opening few minutes and left Hetton-le-Hole stunned when Dowd let fly from inside the area to hand the visitors a shock lead.

Sunderland were rattled and it showed but it wasn’t long before the quality of Embleton came to the fore as he began to spray the ball from left to right.

Patience was the key though, Maja climbed well inside the box before Embleton bent a low free-kick whistling round the far post.

Then, with 23 minutes played, Callum Hawkins was unable to keep hold of Asoro’s vicious strike and Maja showed his striking prowess as he instinctively poked home.

From there it was pretty much one way traffic, Embleton was his industrious self as he continued to motor around the midfield, picking passes and playing neat one-twos.  

But it was Embleton’s usual under-23s team-mate who helped turn the game on its head, Maja’s through ball was inadvertently driven into the top corner from a hapless Tandy as he went to cut out the pass.

Chances came and went for the Black Cats, through Maja and Embleton, as they continued to upstage their lower league opponents but Burton remained well and truly in the match as the referee blew his whistle for half time.

The Brewers returned reenergised after the midway interval and is wasn’t long before they fashioned a number of attempts with the words of their coach ringing loudly in their ears.

Joe Sbarra worked the best opening for the Brewers on the hour mark as his short trickled inches wide of the post with Sunderland motionless.

Unimpressed and demanding more Elliott Dickman waved his players forward, Maja’s quick feet almost worked the perfect opening but Regan Ganley’s outstretched leg managed to take the sting out of the forward’s effort.

The game became stretched as it wore on and that played into Sunderland’s hands, Connelly and Asoro started to open their legs and run into the channels which eventually paid dividends.

Connelly’s turn of pace saw him breeze into the box and then lady luck was on Sunderland’s side as his effort took a big deflection and looped over a bewildered Hawkins.

That blew the wind out of the visitor's sails and just five minutes later the contest was over as Maja brought the ball under his spell and then spun on a six pence inside the area before nestling his strike into the bottom corner.

Burton Albion fought until the end but Sunderland closed the game out well to ensure there was no late drama at Eppleton Colliery Welfare.

Sunderland: Woud, Gamble, Taylor, Storey, Krusnell, Asoro (Kimpioka, 76), Embleton, Allan, Hackett (McAughtrie, 84), Maja, Connelly (Diamond, 76)

Unused subs: Patterson, Young

Burton Albion: Hawkins, Tandy, Hutchinson, Hallahan, Ganley, Cotterill, Hunt (Steele, 63), Sbarra, Garnett (Davies, 10), Dowd, Matthews (Saville, 90)

Unused subs: Smith, Walker

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