A brace from Joe Hugill wasn’t enough to prevent Sunderland under-23s from slipping to defeat against table-topping West Ham United in the Premier League 2 on Sunday.
Sean Adarkwa put the Hammers ahead inside 15 minutes at the Academy of Light, but it was quickly cancelled out by Hugill’s well taken strike just before the break.
16-year-old Hugill smashed in his second on the hour mark to give the Black Cats the lead, but just 10 minutes from time, three goals in four minutes from Mesoque Dou, Xande Silva and Sean Adarkwa shell-shocked Sunderland and gave the visitors all three points.
Elliott Dickman named four trialists in his starting XI and Hugill led the line from the off for the under-23s, for the first time this season.
West Ham were quick to stamp their authority on the game and took the lead in the 14th minute through Afolayan.
The winger reacted quickest to slot home after Adarkwa’s effort was well saved by Anthony Patterson.
Sunderland grew into the game though, with Ruben Sammut dictating proceedings from the middle, and it was Sammut who created the Lads’ first chance.
He delivered a pin-point free-kick that met the head of Owen Gamble, but he nodded narrowly wide.
Hugill grabbed his first goal in the 40th minute to send Sunderland level going into the break.
The tall forward latched onto a through ball from Brandon Taylor and lofted the ball over keeper Joseph Anang and into the net.
And the Durham born striker started where he left off after the break when he grabbed his and Sunderland’s second on the hour mark.
The ball fell kindly to him inside the penalty area and he fired a strike into the top left corner after turning his marker.
Sunderland missed a great opportunity to put the game to bed in the 75th minute, but Cieran Dunne’s effort went agonisingly wide of the post.
And the Lads were dealt a blow just five minutes later when Dju opened up his body and side footed the ball into the top corner with Patterson at full-stretch.
In the 82nd minute, the visitors went ahead through substitute Silva’s long-range strike; he picked the ball up 25-yards from goal and curled into the bottom corner.
Adarkwa sealed the three points in the 84th minute when he turned in a low cross to send the Hammers top of the Premier League 2.
Sunderland U23s: Patterson, Mumba, Gamble, Wilding, Taylor, Healy, Sammut, Hackett, Hugill, Frost, Asomugha
Subs: Bainbridge, Abdelkader, Greenwood, Dunne, Edmundsson
West Ham United U23s: Anang, Ngakia, Cardoso, Rosa, Baptiste, Akinola, Afolayan, Watson, Adarkua, Chesters, Diallo
Subs: Hannam, Iden, Silva, Dou, Parkes