Peterborough United U23 1-4 Sunderland U23
Sunderland under-23s went top of their Premier League Cup group this evening with a hard-fought win over Peterborough United at the ABAX Stadium.
The hosts dominated much of the game but found themselves behind when Williams Kokolo slotted home with nine minutes played.
Sirki Dembele – who impressed throughout – levelled things up when his weaving run in from the left worked a yard of space before his deflected strike wrong-footed Anthony Patterson.
But second-half goals from Lee Connelly, Jack Bainbridge and Kokolo saw the Lads run out rampant winners, as they moved top of group A with two wins from two.
Sunderland under-23s put their league form to one side this evening as they focused their attentions on building on their positive Premier League Cup campaign. Victory in their opening group match against Charlton Athletic put the Lads second, and they were boosted in their bid to go top as Andrew Nelson was named on the bench for the first time this season since recovering from a toe injury picked up in pre-season.
Peterborough started the better of the sides, quickly getting a feel for the ball as they looked to stretch play swiftly and at every available opportunity. Sunderland had to be patience, rigid and hardworking before they dealt a sucker punch with nine minutes played.
Jordan Hunter crashed a shot in from the edge of the box against Conor O’Malley’s palms, the ball spun away, and Frenchman Kokolo was well placed to slot home.
The lead didn’t last long though, as the Posh struck back with 22 minutes played when Dembele’e strike deflected beyond a helpless Patterson.
Sunderland continued to battle away as Kokolo’s pace down the left caused all kinds of problems for the hosts, but the Lads had Jack Bainbridge to thank as he made a vital intervention to turn away Jason Cummings’ effort as he went through on goal.
The striker, who is on loan from Nottingham Forest, went close again before the break, but Patterson was equal to it as he looked to scoop the ball over the stopper’s head.
Peterborough picked up where they left off at the start of the second 45, with Sam Cartwright putting an unmarked header just over the bar.
And the Posh lived to regret that as Connelly fired home Adam Bale’s cross on 58 minutes before Bainbridge headed home a third off a corner from the right.
The hosts remained a threat though, as Dembele toyed with the Black Cats’ backline only to be denied by Patterson who pulled off a string of big saves for Elliott Dickman’s side.
Nelson was then introduced for the final minutes – replacing Diamond – to lead the line, and it wasn’t long before Kokolo capped the Lads’ fine display with low strike into the bottom corner to wrap things up.
Peterborough United U23: O’Malley, Lyon, Daniel, Cooke, Bassong, Cartwright, Cooper, O’Hara, Cummings, Dembele, Burrows
Subs: Backmore, Shackleton, Penfold, Garner, Rolt
Sunderland U23: Patterson, Hunter, Young (Storey, 81), Bale (Connolly, 81), Taylor, Bainbridge, Connelly, Hackett, Diamond (Nelson, 70), Neil, Kokolo
Subs: Johnstone, Leonard