Match report: Connelly double helps to secure cup progression

Washington 1-5 Sunderland U23 

Sunderland under-23s produced a five-star showing against Washington to secure their place in the next round of the Durham County Challenge Cup this evening. 

Goals from Nathan Greenwood and Williams Kokolo put the Black Cats in control of the tie early on before a quickfire double at the start of the second period put the game to bed. 

Lee Connelly and Jack Bainbridge scored twice in two minutes, with the former adding a fifth late on after Craig Hennis had initially pulled one back for the hosts at New Ferens Park. 

Elliott Dickman made a number of changes for this evening’s cup tie, with stopper Ahmed Abdelkader handed his first start. Scholars Joshua Baggs, Dan Jones and Jack Newman also featured on the bench. 

Two goals in four first-half minutes put Sunderland on course for victory. Greenwood, who graduated from the Foundation of Light’s scholarship scheme in the summer and joined the Black Cats on Deadline Day, opened his account in red and white after 16 minutes. 

The midfielder pounced when stopper Ryan Lumsden fumbled, allowing him to steal in and calmly slot home from 14 yards to hand the Lads the advantage at New Ferens Park.

Owen Gamble then missed a big chance to double Sunderland’s lead, shooting wide after initially doing so well to work the opening. 

However, it wasn’t long before the Black Cats got their just reward. This time Kokolo was the man in the right place to finish as he swapped passes with Lee Connelly before latching onto the return ball from the Scot and clinically finishing. 

Washington fought back but Lewis McGeoch was caught out delaying his effort inside the area, and Sunderland almost punished the hosts in the most ruthless way, but Michael Collins couldn’t keep his header from a pinpoint free kick down. 

The Black Cats flew out of the traps at the start of the second 45, Connelly tapping home from close range in the 49th minute before Bainbridge bundled home a corner two minutes later.

Hennis clawed one back for the hosts with a speculative effort from 25 yards leaving stopper Abdelkader with no chance. 

However, it proved to be a mere consolation and it wasn’t long before Connelly bagged his second of the evening – from close range after fine work from Gamble and Dan Neil – to seal victory for the Black Cats. 

Washington: Lumsden, Colquhoun, Horsfall, Hennis, Goodman, Hutchinson, Pattinson, Hanson, McGeoch, Salicki, Akal

Subs: Dixon, Toward, Quinn, Broomfield, Stephenson 

Sunderland U23s: Abdelkader, Evans, Kokolo, Sammut, Bainbridge, Collins, Greenwood, Gamble, Connelly, Neil, Dunne, Jones
Subs: Newman, Hackett, Baggs, Taylor

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