Port Vale 1-2 Sunderland AFC
Sunderland are into Round Two of the Carabao Cup after a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Port Vale at Vale Park.
Josh Hawkes’ first senior goal for the Lads made it 1-0 before half-time, with Aiden O’Brien’s penalty doubling the advantage shortly after the break.
Jamie Proctor dragged the Valiants back into the tie at the three-quarter mark and pushed for an equaliser, but Lee Johnson’s men came out on top over the Sky Bet League Two hosts.
Vale attempted to impose a marker as the home side early on and had the ball in the net 14 minutes in through centre-half Leon Legge. Unfortunately for the hosts, Anthony Patterson was fouled by Nathan Smith in the prelude to the strike, ruling it out.
Former Manchester United striker James Wilson was next to take aim for Darrell Clarke’s side, firing across the face of goal from an acute angle – it was not to be his sole chance of the half, as he struck over from inside the area shortly before the Lads’ opener.
The Lads’ first effort of note came midway through the first half – from their own half – as Luke O’Nien looked to catch out goalkeeper Aidan Stone from a quick free-kick, but the speculative shot sailed wide.
Jack Diamond and Hawkes then both gave Stone an uncomfortable moment, Diamond picking up a loose ball and lobbing it over the goalkeeper and just wide, before Hawkes’ low drive slipped through his grasp for Vale to clear in the nick of time.
Despite the missed opportunity, Hawkes was on hand to provide the first goal and his maiden strike for Sunderland with five minutes remaining of the half.
Alex Pritchard picked up the ball in his own half and rolled his marker before marauding into the Vale defence, sliding it out to the left-hand side for Hawkes – the winger making no mistake in firing past Stone to open his senior Black Cats account.
Patterson got down well to his left to hold a David Worrall strike 15 yards from goal, keeping the Lads in front at the interval.
The task for Johnson’s men in the second half was to pick up where they left off – and just three minutes after the restart, they did just that. Dan Neil’s well-crafted ball met the clever run of Diamond who went down under Stone’s challenge, the referee awarding a penalty kick.
O’Brien stepped up with confidence and slotted the ball clinically to the goalkeeper’s left, despite him diving the right way.
The Valiants continued to push, Smith heading Worrall’s set-piece delivery just wide, with the game naturally opening up and Hawkes almost catching out Stone with a curling strike 25 yards from goal.
For the hosts’ pushing, they found their reward midway through the second half, Proctor’s persistence paying off as he shuffled the ball over the line after Worrall’s low cross.
Worrall came close to levelling the score on 82 minutes but for an excellent last-ditch Neil block, Patterson then showing top reactions to tip over Proctor’s header as Vale upped the pressure further.
A floodlight failure with eight added minutes aside, the Lads soaked up the Vale attack and saw the victory out to enter the hat for the second round draw.
SUNDERLAND AFC: Patterson, Younger, Wright ©, Flanagan, Neil, O’Nien, Pritchard (Grigg 66’), Taylor (Doyle 74’), Diamond (McGeady 66’), O’Brien, Hawkes.
Subs not used: Burge, Evans, Gooch, Stewart.
Port Vale: Stone, Jones (Cass 66’), Walker (Amoo 66’), Legge, Smith, Worrall, Garrity, Wilson (Bailey 74’), Benning, Proctor, Pett ©.
Subs not used: Gibbons, Hurst, Johnson, Martin.