Lee Connelly bagged a brace as Sunderland Under-18s beat Shrewsbury Town 3-1 in the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday night.
Connelly gave the Black Cats the lead in the 11th minute only for George Hassall to level.
However, Connelly regained Sunderland’s lead 11 minutes into the second half and Elliot Embleton wrapped up the points in the 75th minute.
The result means Sunderland now host rivals Newcastle United in the fifth round after the Magpies defeated Swansea City on Monday night.
Sunderland coach Elliott Dickman named a strong side to play the Shrews with Josh Maja, Joel Asoro and Embleton all starting.
And the Black Cats started well at a bitterly cold Hetton Centre, nearly breaking through in the eighth minute when Connelly cut in from the left to fire a low drive which forced Jack Atkinson into a save.
A minute later, at the other end, Ryan Barnett cut in after a mazy run but Michael Woud was equal to his powerful drive.
The deadlock was broken in the 11th minute as Connelly broke clear before sliding the ball under Atkinson to put the hosts ahead.
Shrewsbury were playing good football in the opening half hour with Barnett looking particularly dangerous. And following half chances for both Chris Gallagher and Jacob Rammell, the Shrews pulled level on the half hour mark.
Aaron Gilpin – who was receiving constant advice from the away dugout – burst down the wing and drilled a pinpoint cross into the penalty area to find Hassall and his powerful header picked out the corner with Woud rooted to his spot.
Having conceded, Sunderland looked to regain their lead immediately. Alex Storey rose highest to meet a teasing corner but Atkinson pulled off a fine save to prevent him.
Shrewsbury were knocking the ball around with confidence as half-time approached and with seven minutes until the break, that confidence carved out a chance. Gilpin’s pace saw him lose his marker and his cross dropped for Gallagher, but Brandon Taylor was on hand for a crucial block.
Chris Allan fired over after dancing through for Sunderland in the 39th minute before Shrewsbury’s Barnett stung the hands of Woud with a powerful drive destined for the bottom corner.
Shrewsbury went into the break level but they would find themselves behind again after the first real chance of the second half. In the 58th minute, Maja worked his way into the penalty area before being challenged, but the referee rightly played the advantage.
Connelly picked up the ball and rifled it home to regain the Black Cats’ lead.
The Shrews were pressing Sunderland at every possible opportunity and knocking the ball around well but failed to create any clear-cut chances.
Despite the spirited football, Sunderland were to seal the win 15 minutes from time. Following a quick counter attack, Connelly unselfishly squared the ball to Embleton and the England Under-18 international blasted high into the net to sink Shrewsbury.
The visitors kept plugging away and when Barnett and George Hughes linked up, the latter crossed to find Hassall but his effort was saved by Woud. They had another great chance to ensure a nervy finish as substitute Tyrone Ofori was fouled in the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot.
Gallagher took responsibility but Woud guessed correctly and saved the penalty.
It was a comfortable win for Sunderland in the end and they now go on to host Newcastle United in the fifth round.
Full-time: Sunderland U18s 3-1 Shrewsbury Town U18s
Sunderland U18s: Woud, Gamble, Storey, Taylor, Krusnell, Allan, Embleton, Asoro (Diamond, 59′), Hackett (McAughtrie, 88′), Connelly, Maja (Mbunga-Kimpioka, 83′)
Unused subs: Young, Patterson
Shrewsbury Town U18s: Atkinson, Sears, Jones, Hughes, Bonner, Roberts, Barnett, Rammell (Ofori, 75′), Hassall (Higgs, 83′), Gallagher, Gilpin
Unused subs: Gregory, Lovett, Kerins