Sunderland under-18s progressed to the second round of the FA Youth Cup with a comfortable 3-1 win over Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday.
First half goals from Harry Ord and Cole Kiernan gave the lads the advantage, before Ryan Stratulis’ long range strike halved the deficit for the visitors.
Substitute Louie Watts put the game to bed midway through the second half as the lads saw the game out, despite Dan Neil receiving a second yellow card 10 minutes from time.
Paul Bryson named Bali Mumba and Neil, who have both featured heavily for the under-23s this campaign, in his starting 11 at Eppleton CW.
The young Black Cats dominated possession in the opening stages and created their first chance 15 minutes in; Cole Kiernan pounced on a loose ball, but the striker sent his effort straight at Ben Jones.
But Sunderland’s pressure soon reaped the rewards in the 16th minute, Tom Smith whipped in an inch perfect cross towards Ord, who rose highest and nodded into the bottom corner.
And the lads doubled their advantage less than 10 minutes later; Dan Jones fed the ball into skipper Cole Kiernan, who spun his man before rolling the ball home.
Tranmere halved the deficit on the stroke of half time when Stratulis picked the ball up 30-yards from goal, before unleashing a fearsome drive into the top corner.
Rovers almost levelled proceedings early in the second half, but Kyle Hayde’s effort flew inches wide of Jack Newman’s post.
Then, the lads went agonisingly close to increasing their lead, striking the crossbar twice in a matter of seconds.
First, Kiernan’s header looped onto the bar before dropping kindly for Logan Pye, who also rattled the upright.
Sunderland finally restored their two-goal cushion 20 minutes from time; Neil weaved his way into Rovers’ box and squared for substitute Watts, who made no mistake from close range.
The lads were reduced to 10-men in the closing stages, when Neil received his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
But it wouldn’t prove costly, with the lads comfortably closing the game out to seal a trip to the winners of Shrewsbury Town or Port Vale in the second round.
Sunderland: Newman, Mumba, Smith, Jones, Krakue, Ord, Wombwell, Neil, Kiernan, Foster, Pye
Subs: Watts, Cameron, Dicicco, Armstrong, Hugill, Compper, Bagg.
Tranmere: Jones, Hayde, Burton, Musuamba, Sinnott, Nugent, Walton, Gouldbourne, Badhawi, Stratulis, Blackham
Subs: Bickerstaffe, Quinn, Shead, Ferguson, Corness