Sunderland under-23s began 2020 in defeat as they lost 4-0 to Aston Villa on Monday evening in the Premier League 2.
The young Black Cats were blown away by Villa’s rapid start that saw them score three times in the first 10 minutes.
Striker Indiana Vassilev opened the scoring after 67 seconds with a powerful header, and grabbed his second just two minutes later with a fine solo effort.
Cameron Archer then got in on the act, making no mistake one on one, before Jacob Ramsey completed a flowing team move when he swept home from inside the area.
Elliott Dickman named at attacking side for the 23s’ first fixture of 2020, with Bali Mumba supporting Benji Kimpioka and Cieran Dunne in attack.
Brandon Taylor partnered Jack Bainbridge in the heart of defence after the former made up part of Phil Parkinson’s squad in the first teams win over Lincoln City on Saturday.
It was a nightmare start for the Lads when Villa drew first blood with just 67 seconds on the clock through Vassilev; skipper Jake Walker whipped in a deep cross and the American nodded home, leaving Anthony Patterson rooted to the spot.
And the Villans doubled their advantage two minutes later as Vassilev grabbed his second.
He picked the ball up 40-yards from goal, drove at the Black Cats defence and curled a fine effort into the bottom left corner.
Archer capped off an impressive first 10 minutes for the hosts when he raced in behind and slotted the ball low past Patterson.
The Lads had a chance to get back into the game in the 20th minute when Mumba’s cross found Dunne, but the winger’s goal bound effort was expertly blocked by Mungo Bridge.
Ramsey made Dunne pay for the missed opportunity in the following attack when he stroked home from 15-yards, after good work from Archer down the left.
Kimpioka missed Sunderland’s best opportunity in the 40th minute when he shifted the ball onto his right foot, before firing a low effort across goal that cannoned off the inside of the post.
There were little chances of note for either side after the break, but the damage had been done in the first-half as the Lads fell to defeat at Bodymoor Heath.
Next up for Elliott Dickman’s side is a trip to Willington in the Durham Challenge Cup on Thursday evening.
Aston Villa U23s: Searle, Walker [C], Rowe, Suliman, Bridge, Guy, Archer, Clarke, Vassilev, Ramsey, Wright
Subs: Brunt, Sinisalo, Birch, Odutayo, Hooper
Sunderland U23s: Patterson, Gamble, Evans, Neil, Taylor, Bainbridge [C], Connolly (Leonard 45), Sammut, Kimpioka, Mumba, Dunne
Subs: Kokolo, Abdelkader, Greenwood, Slack, Leonard