U23s Report: Cats overcome Annfield Plain

Sunderland U23 11-0 Annfield Plain

Safc.com’s Sam Lightle reviews the action from Eppleton Colliery Welfare as Sunderland under-23s eased past Annfield Plain in the preliminary round of the Durham County Challenge Cup.

The Black Cats produced a well drilled professional display to seal their place in round one of the cup competition, at the expense of Annfield Plain.

Here’s how the action unfolded…


Elliott Dickman was true to his word and reshuffled his pack, with Monaco starlet Williams Kokolo starting on the left after featuring for the under-18s at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday. Michael Woud began the evening between the sticks while Allan and Jake Hackett made up the middle of the park.


Luke Molyneux spearheaded Sunderland’s attacking and his first involvement saw the lads get their noses in front. A quick faint saw Molyneux breeze his way over the halfway line, he then slotted Kokolo in and the former Monaco man calmly finished to bag his first goal for the club. And the Frenchman only got better – his clipped cross to Jack Diamond saw the right winger test David Staff before the stopper turned away Kokolo’s second attempt. Annfield Plain struggled to get a foothold in the match as the Black Cats sunk their teeth in further, Diamond again tested Staff as the clock ticked over the five-minute mark, but the visitors resolve didn’t last for much longer. And with seven minutes played it was 2-0. Chris Allan found a yard of space inside the area and finished well to double the lads’ lead.


Sunderland were bullish, dominant and hungry in all areas, not allowing Annfield Plain a yard, an inch or a second’s thought on the ball. Patience was also key for the Black Cats to not do anything sloppy, making sure each pass was perfectly crafted as they kept the visitors at arms left. And with 26 minutes the tie was arguably put to bed by full-back Robson who forced home his strike to make it 3-0.


Sunderland played a with a real swagger in their step but it was their summer addition Kokolo who provided Annfield Plain with the biggest questions. With half an hour on the clock the Black Cats No.11 switched to the right flank, his confidence oozing from his feet with every touch. The tricks and flicks were an added extra in possession, but without it the Frenchman showed showed a willingness and desire to work hard and do the ugly side of things. And it was down the right flank where Sunderland made it 4-0, with 38 minutes played Molyneux squeezed the ball under Staff as Sunderland extended their lead. Shortly after, Kokolo almost added a fifth, however, his dipping effort had too much on it as it flashed over.


Dickman’s side picked up where they left off in the second period, quickly asserting their authority with Molyneux looking lively in a new role. Usually a winger, Molyneux displayed his explosive turn of pace as he waltzed his way inside before he bent home his second of the evening. Seconds later, Molyneux sealed his hat-trick. The No.9 forced his effort home at an angle, with the help of a helpless Annfield Plain defender who flicked the ball home. Job done.

Jean Yves-Poame entered the fray on 60 minutes, replacing hat-trick hero Molyneux, and he was swiftly involved in the action as he scored twice either side of Diamond’s strike. 9-0. 


Michael Woud enjoyed a quiet evening between the sticks but had to be at his very best when Carl Malpass powered a header from a corner towards goal. The New Zealand youngster reacted expertly and tipped the close-range header over the bar. Lee Connelly added a 10th following excellent movement and then a well-executed McGeady spin before Diamond produced an outrageous flick to add an 11th on the stroke of full-time. A job well done. 

Sunderland U23: Woud, J Robson, T Robson, Allan, Storey, Brotherton, Diamond, Hackett (Hickey, 60), Molyneux (Poame, 60), Wright, Kokolo (Connelly, 45)
Subs: Patterson, Young

Annfield Plain: Staff, Burrows, Gohery, Cumpson (Hall, 45), Couwson, Hodgson, Pearce (Dunn, 45), Mackay, Malpass, Hodgson, Allison
Subs: Glending, Jackson, Donnelly

Attendance: 148

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