Sunderland secured a safe passage into the qualification stage of the Premier League Cup thanks to a 1-0 win over Bristol City.
Luis Hemir’s strike in the closing stages of the second half proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Romaine Mundle’s impact in the opening stages of the game was felt when he drifted inside from the left but saw his bending off curl off target.
Mundle was causing havoc down the left again with Adil Aouchiche’s ball in behind feeding his run but the linesman’s flag prevented the chance.
The opening 30 minutes of the game belonged to the home side as they monopolised the majority of possession at Eppleton but were perservering to find a way through the Robins.
Tom Chiabi went closest in the opening 45 minutes as he drove into the box and rattled his effort off the top of the crossbar. Bristol replied with a first-time shot inside the box as Kai Churchley latched onto a cutback only to blaze the ball over the bar.
Mundle’s luck was out for the first half when latched onto a cutback which was cleared off the line. Further efforts from Tom Lavery and Caden Kelly continued to test the away side’s resolve.
The two teams went in level at the break thanks to a tremendous save from Matty Young. With Marley Rose clean through on goal, the keeper got down quickly to tip his finish round the post.
The Lads carried on in similar vein in the second period. Some intricate play from Ben Middlemas found Oliver Bainbridge on the left. His cutback saw Aouchiche fire over the bar inside the box. Harrison Jones then tested the palms of the keeper Lewis Thomas from a breakaway opportunity with a shot on the edge of the box.
Timur Tutierov was thrown into the heart of the action and was inches from making the breakthrough with a speculative curling effort cracking the inside of the post. The finishing touch continued to avaid them as Lavery found room inside the box only to see his effort flash wide of the post.
The breakthrough finally came with less than 15 minutes to go. Aouchiche’s cutback at the byline was lashed home by Hemir who made no mistake from close range.
The Lads have secured their place in the next round of the competition with one Group E game to go against Peterborough United.
SAFC U21s XI: Young; Lavery, Johnson, Fieldson, Bainbridge; Chiabi, Middlemas (Ryder 88’); Kelly © (H Jones 45’), Aouchiche, Mundle (Tutierov 61’); Luis Hemir
Subs: Cameron, J Jones
Bristol City U21s XI: L Thomas; Acey, Knight-Label, Wood, Taylor-Clarke, Rose, Kadji, O Thomas, Idehen, Churchley, Backwell
Subs: Foxwell, Finch, Griffin, Hooper, Filer