Match report: Lads progress as group A winners

Morecambe 0-1 Sunderland 

Josh Maja struck an injury-time winner as Sunderland defeated Morecambe to book their place in the last 32 the Checkatrade Trophy as group A winners. 

There was little to separate the sides as the game headed towards penalties, but Maja lashed home from close range in the dying embers to give the Lads their second victory in group A. 

Jack Ross named a completely new starting XI, with Max Power handed his first start since completing his four-game suspension. Robbin Ruiter replaced Jon McLaughlin in goal while Bryan Oviedo, Glenn Loovens and Alim Ozturk featured in a back five. 

Youngsters Jack Bainbridge and Jordan Hunter were also part of that, as Jake Hackett featured in the middle alongside Power and Luke O’Nien. Elsewhere, Jack Diamond led the line with Maja.

With the changes in mind, it was no surprise Morecambe had the first chance of the night as Jason Oswell’s header was cleared off the line by O’Nien who leaped to the Lads’ rescue.

Sunderland settled, with Hackett instrumental in the middle of the park as he dictated play alongside the robust and physical presence of Power. Hunter stung the palms of Mark Halstead before Hackett sent in a teasing cross which just evaded Maja and Diamond. 

At the other end, Alex Kenyon struck the base of the post from 25 yards as The Shrimps looked to silence the youthful Sunderland side who were backed by more than 1,500 travelling fans.

But the Black Cats continued to play with a spring in their step as Power saw his corner from the right clawed clear by an outstretched glove of Halstead in the last act of the opening 45. 

Sunderland continued to lay siege to Morecambe’s goal at the start of the second half, with Diamond drawing a stop from Halstead before a flurry of chances saw the Lads pepper the hosts’ goal further.

Oviedo’s arrowed strike from the left fell kindly for Diamond and his effort from the penalty spot spun wide for a corner.

Morecambe hit back as they swung in a number of testing crosses into the Sunderland box, but at the other end Maja was left with his head in his hands as he couldn’t quite stretch far enough onto Oviedo’s fierce ball in from the left.

But Oviedo’s next ball in from the left did find Maja, and this time the 19-year-old didn’t disappoint as he lashed home to win it right at the death for Sunderland. 

Morecambe: Halstead, Conlan, Kenyon, Thompson (Hedley, 75), Ellison, Oswell, Yarney, Lvelle, Mendes-Gomes (Piggott, 69), Cuvelier (Tutte, 57), Cranston
Subs not used: Szczepaniak, Old, Mandeville, Brownsword 

Sunderland: Ruiter, Hunter (Taylor, 60), Bainbridge, Loovens, Ozturk, Oviedo, Power, Hackett (Neil, 90), O’Nien, Maja, Diamond (Connelly, 65)
Subs not used: Patterson, Leonard, Kokolo, Young

Attendance: 2,377 (1,569)

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