Sunderland U23s 0 - 4 West Bromwich Albion U23s
Sunderland under-23s fell to defeat in their first home game of 2020, at the hands of West Bromwich Albion on Monday evening in the Premier League 2.
The Baggies dominated the opening stages and were rewarded midway through the first-half, when Zak Brown capitalised on a defensive error to open the scoring.
Rayhaan Tulloch then lashed in, in first-half injury time to double the visitors’ advantage.
And Tulloch grabbed his second three minutes after the interval, taking advantage of another defensive lapse.
Finn Azzaz added further damage to the score-line as he fired home with little over five minutes remaining to ensure West Brom secured the three points.
Elliott Dickman slotted Jake Hackett back into the midfield, after his loan move with Whitby Town came to an end.
There was also a place on the bench for youngster James Foster, who has impressed with the under-18s this campaign.
Both sides looked to get the ball down and play in the early stages at a blustery Eppleton CW, and it was West Brom who created the first chance as they carved open the Black Cats' defence.
Towering striker Callum Morton beat the offside trap after a threaded through ball from Finn Azaz, but Anthony Patterson raced out to make the block.
Sunderland’s resistance was broken in the 26th minute as Brown opened the deadlock.
Morton beat the offside trap and closed down Patterson; the Sunderland stopper’s clearance went straight to the feet of Brown, who hammered into an empty net.
The Black Cats’ best chance came four minutes before the interval when Connor Slack made a nuisance of himself and won a free-kick on the 18 yard line.
Hackett stepped up and crashed his effort straight into the wall and behind for a corner.
The visitors broke away quickly from the resulting corner, the ball eventually fell to Morton and he thundered an effort off the crossbar.
But the Baggies did make it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time as the Lads were dealt a sucker-punch.
Smart combination play between Morton and Brown ended with the ball finding Tulloch; the winger composed himself, before firing into the roof of the net.
The visitors began where they left off after the break as they made it three in the 48th minute.
Tulloch pounced on a loose ball inside the Sunderland six-yard box and prodded home his second, and his side’s third as the Black Cats were caught napping.
The red and whites almost had one back moments later when Owen Gamble’s cross found Benji Kimpioka, who was introduced at half-time, but he fired an effort narrowly wide.
Patterson made a number of fine saves to keep the deficit to three until the 83rd minute, when Azaz raced through one on one and calmly slotted into the net.
The result leaves the U23s bottom of the Premier League 2 Division 2.
Sunderland U23s: Patterson, Gamble, Kokolo, Sammut, Taylor, Bainbridge, Greenwood, Hackett, Slack (Foster 71), Mumba, Dunne (Kimpioka 45)
Subs not used: Abdelkader, Connolly, Collins
West Brom U23s: Griffihs, Meredith, Harmon, Shotton, Healey, Wilding, Asomugha, Azaz (Solanke 83), Morton (Taylor 72), Brown (Dyce 72), Tulloch
Subs not used: White, Williams