Sunderland U18 3-4 Newcastle United U18
A spirited Sunderland display turned to dust as their FA Youth Cup venture ended at the hands of Newcastle United at Eppleton Colliery Welfare.
Two goals in five first-half minutes through Lewis McNall, from the penalty spot, and Owen Bailey handed the Magpies a commanding lead at the break.
Sunderland though weren’t without their chances, Josh Maja stabbed wide in the opening seconds before Elliot Embleton was denied by a point-blank range save from stopper Nathan Harker.
Maja halved the deficit on the 54th minute but Newcastle quickly restored their two-goal cushion as Adam Wilson rifled home from outside the box as he skipped inside.
The Black Cats weren’t to be outdone and the response was emphatic, two goals in as many minutes through Maja and Embleton saw the lads draw level.
McNall though had the final say as he calmly finish two minutes from time to knock Sunderland out of the cup.
Elliott Dickman selected a strong starting XI as he had Maja, Joel Asoro and Embeton at his disposable.
The trio, who have been in and around the first-team mix this season, have featured heavily in both Sunderland under-18s’ previous two FA Youth Cup fixtures and spearheaded their victories over Burton Albion and Shrewsbury Town.
Maja led the charge in the opening stages, a stabbed effort rolled perilously wide inside the 14 seconds before the deep lying forward breezed past one, then two, and was inches away from finding the perfect pass into Lee Connelly’s feet.
Newcastle though did well get a hold on the match and after Michael Woud was given a couple of glove warming strikes, he was tasked with keeping out McNall from 12 yards.
Oscar Krusnell was penalised for a foul inside the box and McNall did the rest from the penalty stop as he lashed home as Woud went the wrong way.
Things turned from bad to worse five minutes later as the Magpies doubled their advantage.
Matthew Longstaff pitched his free-kick into the mix, Bailey read the situation well, stole in and looped his effort over Woud.
Sunderland responded well though, Asoro dragged an effort wide before Chris Allan lashed an arrowed drive inches wide of Nathan Harker’s goal.
While the Black Cats dominated the general ebb and flow of the game, they were largely their own worst enemy as Embleton continued to draw blanks as he attempted to weave his magic.
Patience was key for Dickman’s side and their tireless efforts almost paid off as Embleton pounced on an error and was denied by a big stop from Harker who preserved his side’s two-goal advantage.
Sunderland begun the second period as they started the first, Embleton’s strike from 20 yards was spilled by Harker but Asoro was flagged offside as he pounced on the rebound.
The Magpies were sleeping and the Black Cats could smell blood as Asoro got in behind and was again denied by Harker who rushed off his line.
But with 54 minutes played Newcastle’s resolve was finally broken, Maja leathered the ball into the net following free-flowing play from Connelly.
It was nothing more than the lads deserved, Connelly, Maja and Asoro romped through the gears and as a result wave after wave of attacks crashed against the Magpies backline.
A flurry of changes from Newcastle saw them stop the hosts’ momentum and minutes later Wilson restored the Magpies finish as he skipped inside off the right flank.
It was a cruel blow on Sunderland who up until then had looked by far in the way the brighter of the two sides, however, what followed was emphatic.
Maja was sent tumbling as he danced his way into the box on 76 minutes but dusted himself down and expertly finished.
That sparked the comeback and just two minutes later Embleton provided the finish after fine link-up play saw the midfielder pull the trigger from 12 yards.
Just as the game seemed to be heading to extra time, McNall spun his man and calmly chipped the on rushing Woud to see Newcastle defeat Sunderland.
Sunderland: Woud, Gamble, Krusnell (Diamond, 73), Allan, Taylor, Storey, Asoro, Embleton, Connelly, Maja, Hackett
Subs not used: Young, Patterson, Best
Newcastle United: Harker, Kitchen, Aplin, Longstaff, Bailey, Gibson, Wilson, Watts (Goodridge,67), McNall, Allan, Smith (Lowther, 57)
Subs not used: Huuhtanen, Spooner, Adu-Peprah.