Sunderland under-23s lost 3-1 to Norwich City under-23s on Sunday in their final Premier League 2 match of 2019 at Carrow Road.
A bright start from the Lads was cut short by Josh Martin’s sublime long-range strike inside 20 minutes, and things got worse for Sunderland three minutes later when Adam Idah slotted home to double Norwich’s lead.
Sunderland galvanised after half-time and pulled one back, when Benji Kimpioka won and scored a penalty to give the Lads some hope with 20 minutes to play.
But Gassan Ahadme scored a penalty of his own in the 75th minute to put the game beyond reach.
Elliott Dickman was without top scorer Lee Connelly for the clash through suspension, after the striker picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Stoke City on Monday.
Sunderland started the brightest of the sides and went close through Benji Kimpioka inside 10 minutes.
Nathan Greenwood picked out his fellow frontman on the left, before Kimpioka beat his man with a sublime piece of skill and fired narrowly wide.
But the Black Cats suffered a setback in the 20th minute as the Canaries took the lead.
A quick throw-in caught Sunderland off guard and the ball found its way to Martin 25-yards from goal, the winger set himself and unleashed a rocket into the top left corner.
Sunderland failed to regroup after the opener and just three minutes later the hosts had their second.
A loose pass from Jack Connolly was picked up by Idah, who ran through one on one and slotted under Anthony Patterson.
Sunderland looked the most threating after the break, and went close on the hour mark when a set-piece found its way to Brandon Taylor, but his goal-bound effort was well blocked by Akin Famewo.
And on 73 minutes Sunderland had one back through the ever lively Kimpioka.
The striker was brought down inside the area while aiming to gather a loose ball, and stepped up himself to take the spot-kick, slotting low to the ‘keeper’s left to half the deficit.
But Sunderland’s momentum going into the final 15 minutes was short lived, when Norwich won a penalty of their own just two-minutes later.
Jamal Lewis was tripped by a trialist, and Gassan Ahadme stepped up and calmly rolled the ball down the middle to seal all three points for Norwich.
Norwich City U23s: Rose, Thomas, Lewis, Odusina, Famewo (C), Adshead, Fitzpatrick, Thorvaldsson, Idah, Ahadme, Martin
Subs: Lomas, Blair, Hutchinson, Hondermarck, McAlear
Sunderland U23s: Patterson, Mumba, Kokolo, Connolly, Taylor, Bainbridge, Sammut, Gamble, Kimpioka, Trialist, Greenwood
Subs: Edmundsson, Abdelkader, Collins,