Lads advance in county cup

Image: Sunderland AFC

Sunderland U23s 4-0 Boldon CA

First-half braces from Lee Connelly and Williams Kokolo helped Sunderland under-23s cruise to a 4-0 victory against Boldon CA in the Durham County Challenge Cup.

Elliot Dickman named a much-changed side from the draw at Huddersfield Town, with Ahmed Abdelkader, Michael Collins, Brandon Taylor, Nathan Greenwood, Owen Gamble and Jack Connolly all coming into the starting 11 at Eppleton CW.

Sunderland raced out of the stalls and had the perfect opportunity to take the lead when Nathan Greenwood won a penalty after just two minutes, but Connelly’s well struck spot kick was saved down to James Lone’s left. 

The visitors responded with an attack of their own moments later when Frankie Hucks raced in behind the defence, but Abdelkader rushed out to make the block. 

And the Algerian stopper was quickly called into action again to deny Levi Collins at full stretch, in what was a frantic start to the game.

The Lads took the lead in the 22nd minute when Connelly made amends for his earlier penalty miss; the striker picked up the ball 20-yards from goal before unleashing a rocket into the bottom corner.

Owen Gamble almost doubled the lead on the half hour mark, but his curling free kick was tipped behind by Lone. 

Sunderland had a two-goal cushion five minutes before the interval, when Williams Kokolo fired home from close range after Michael Collins’ weaving run down the left flank. 

And the lads quickly made it three and then four on the stroke of half-time. 

Connelly raced in behind before rolling the ball home to make it three, despite the best efforts of Alex Lovatt to prevent the ball trickling over the line.

Kokolo flicked the ball home from inside the six-yard box seconds later to round off an emphatic first half for the Black Cats. 

Boldon almost pulled one back 20 minutes from time when Lovatt unleashed a rasping drive that clipped the top of the crossbar.

Sunderland almost bolstered their lead towards the end, but Lone produced a number of brilliant stops to keep the deficit to four.

The commanding victory will stand the lads in good stead ahead of their Premier League 2 clash with Newcastle United on Monday night.

Sunderland U23s: Ahmed Abdelkader, Kane Evans, Michael Collins, Daniel Neil, Brandon Taylor, Jack Bainbridge ©, Nathan Greenwood, Jack Connolly, Lee Connelly, Owen Gamble, Williams Kokolo 

Subs: Bali Mumba, Jack Newman, James Foster, Ruben Sammut, Ryan Leonard

Boldon CA: James Lone, Gavin Strong, Liam Simpson-McGill, Sam Attewell, Alex Lovatt, Codie Howe ©, Jordan Fenwick, Steven Graham, Frankie Hucks, Levi Collins, Alaxander McBeth 

Subs: Daniel Nolan, Cory Fenwick, John Murray, Dominic Solman, Jonathan Mattews 

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