Prudhoe Town 0-6 Sunderland U23
Sunderland produced a professional display against Prudhoe Town to clinch the inaugural Bob Stokoe Shield on Friday evening.
Hundreds of fans attended the fundraising match in Northumberland, and were witness to a dominate Black Cats display.
Oscar Krusnell opened the scoring with 15 minutes on the clock and then Jean Yves-Poame was denied by the feet of the hosts’ stopper as he bore down on goal.
The Lads rallied again in the second period, Owen Gamble supplying a long range finish to double their lead before Sam Brotherton powered home Fergus McAughtrie’s corner with a bullet header.
Gamble then added his second with the pick of Sunderland’s goals before further goals from Lee Connelly and McAughtrie wrapped up the win.
Elliott Dickman took his Black Cats side through to Northumberland in an end of season charity match, in honour of the Lads’ 1973 FA Cup winning manager Bob Stokoe.
Born in Prudhoe, Stokoe wrote his name in Wearside folkore in his first of two tenures at Sunderland. Stokoe famously led the Lads to Wembley success, courtesy of Ian Porterfield’s match-winning strike against Leeds United and that impressive double stop from Jim Montgomery who was in attendance.
Following the development side’s involvement in the Premier League International Cup final on Wednesday, Dickman rang the changes to his starting XI.
James Talbot replaced Max Stryjek between the posts while Gamble, Alex Storey, Brotherton and Krusnell completed the back five.
Dan Wright and Chris Allan occupied the centre of the pack, with Jake Hackett and Benji Kimpioka offering the width. Poame led the line and Jack Diamond featured just behind him.
With that in mind, it was no surprise Diamond’s wizardry had Prudhoe chasing shadows in the opening exchanges.
The swiftly-fleeted youngster slipped across the pitch, with neat intricate touches working space for his fellow team-mates to feed off.
But it was the wide areas where Diamond was able to do the most damage. Hackett’s ball down the left side allowed the 17-year-old to gallop into the box, however, Poame was unable to hit the target with five minutes on the clock.
Sunderland continued to cause damage down the sides, Krusnell’s wing-back role saw him step offside in a bid to latch onto Allan’s threaded ball.
The hosts gave it their all but the Lads’ pressure took its toll with 15 minutes played, a dipping free-kick from range had Prudhoe’s keeper scrambling and Krusnell pounced to stab home the rebound.
It was a more than deserved lead the Lads had grabbed hold of, Brotherton and Storey formed an assure base at the back while Krusnell’s supportive wide play allowed Dickman’s side to attack in numbers on numerous occasions.
The uneven playing surface twined with Prudhoe’s physicality meant life was uncomfortable from time to time, but Poame could’ve put that to bed on the half-hour mark when he peeled off his man and pointed to where he wanted the pass.
Poame received and advanced on goal but was denied by the hosts’ stopped who raced off his line and blocked the low drive with his feet.
As the half wore on Sunderland grew sloppy in their play, over-hit and missed-placed passes gave Prudhoe a platform to build and they almost did just that when they skimmed the bar before the break.
An unchanged Black Cats XI returned after the break as darkness fell around Prudhoe, with thick grey clouds not helping to the fading light situation.
Gamble stung the hands of the hosts’ stopper with sweetly-struck drive from the edge of the box, forcing the ‘keeper to get down to his right and place a strong hand in the way.
Dickman hollered for his troops to ‘move the ball’ and that’s exactly what they did – left to right, back and forth, up and down.
Diamond’s movement across the frontline invited in tackles while Allan’s precise passes saw him spray the ball from left to right as Sunderland patiently looked to unlocked Prudhoe’s defence.
And with 53 minutes on the clock, it was 2-0.
Gamble collected the ball 25 yards from goal, and made no mistake by finding the bottom corner to double the Lads’ hold on the game.
Weaving runs from Kimpioka continued to add to the Lads’ silky-smooth display, Poame also supplying some tidy touches as he dropped short to link the play.
Sunderland were enjoying themselves and it showed with 15 minutes left as Brotherton made it 3-0.
The towering centre-back effortlessly leap in a bid to connect with McAughtrie’s in-swinging corner from the right, and his ability to hold himself in the air saw him able to power the ball past Prudhoe’s stopper and into the net.
It was nothing more than the six-capped New Zealand international deserved following a faultless display alongside Storey at the back for the Lads.
Unfortunately for the hosts, Sunderland weren’t finished there.
Gamble lashed his second and the Black Cats’ fourth home with an outrageous strike from 25 yards.
Somehow managing to better his first effort, the full-back leathered past Prudhoe’s full-stretched stopper and into the top corner with 82 minutes played.
Fatigue in the hosts’ legs saw wave after wave of attacks crash against their backline, and just two minutes later Connelly made it 5-0.
The Scottish striker, as he has done all season, fashioned a yard of space inside the box and buried his effort with real vengeance before McAughtrie sealed the win with a deflected strike on the stroke of full-time.
Sunderland seal the Bob Stokoe Shield.
Sunderland U23: Talbot (Patterson, 85), Gamble, Storey, Brotherton, Krusnell, Wright, Allan (McAughtrie, 57), Diamond (Connelly, 54), Hackett (Connolly, 72), Poame, Kimpioka (Dunne, 82)