U23 Report: Connelly hat-trick seals win in South London

Charlton Athletic U23 1-3 Sunderland U23

Lee Connelly scored a quick-fire second-half hat-trick to put Sunderland under-23s’ on the brink of qualification to the knockout stages of the Premier League Cup this evening.

While the Black Cats trailed at the break in Greenwich, Connelly scored three times in 20 minutes to turn the game on its head and defeat the 10-men of Charlton.

Bali Mumba and Jack Diamond were named in Sunderland under-23s’ starting XI for their Premier League Cup trip to South London, with the lads knowing a victory would almost secure their place in the knockout stages of the competition. 

However, Sunderland were tasked with it all to do in the second 45 after falling behind in the opening period in difficult circumstances.

Wassim Aouachria tucked home Charlton’s goal on six minutes after Anthony Patterson parried Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu’s effort.

Sunderland created little in the first period as Jake Hackett let fly from 25 yards before Williams Kokolo missed the after cutting into the box.

But following the restart, the Black Cats slipped through the gears and into the lead…

Connelly, the fox in the box, pounced on Diamond's parried low strike to level before slotting home another of Diamond’s saved efforts minutes later to turn the match on its head.

The Scottish striker’s pace was proving too much for the Addicks backline to deal with, and shortly after the hour mark the youngster made it 3-1 as his energy got the better of Jo Cummings.

The defender stopped Connelly in his tracks, received a red card and conceded a penalty which the Scotsman made mistake from as he converted to bag his hat-trick.  

Sunderland continued to press and probe for more as the half wore on, but the job was done and progression to the knockout stages of the Premier League Cup has almost been secured with two matches to play. 

Sunderland U23: Patterson, Hunter, Young, Storey, Taylor (Evans, 46), Hackett (Bale), Mumba, Connolly, Diamond (Leonard), Connelly, Kokolo

Subs: Johnstone, Neil

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