U23 Report: Lads secure place in the knockout stages

Sunderland U23 6-2 Peterborough United U23

A Jack Diamond treble helped Sunderland under-23s booked their place in the knockout stages of the Premier League Cup following a convincing victory over Peterborough United.

Diamond netted his first of the evening inside three minutes but had to wait for his other two as Lee Connelly netted a brace and Benji Kimpioka also got his name on the scoresheet from the penalty spot.

Morgan Penfold and Oliver Shackleton struck for the Posh at Eppleton CW, but it wasn’t enough and the Black Cats sealed their place in the next round as Diamond capped a fine display with a last minute volley.

Gunning for back-to-back wins this evening – after defeating title-hopefuls Reading last time out in the league – Sunderland under-23s entertained Peterborough United knowing victory would be enough to secure their place in the knockout stages of the competition with a game to spare.

Diamond, who netted the match-winner against the Royals last Sunday, started on the left while Bali Mumba filling the middle of the park alongside Dan Neil and Jack Connolly. Kimpioka, meanwhile, led the attack on his own as Sunderland flew out the traps on home turf.

Taking just three minutes to hit the front, Diamond sparked things off with a waltzing run and finish down the right. The tricky winger showed excellent feet as he had the Posh defenders chasing his shadow before he squeezed the ball past Joshua Allen’s near post.

It was the perfect settler Sunderland needed, and shortly before the half-hour mark it was 2-0. This time, Connelly was the man who provided the finish after further fine work down the right.

Close control saw him breeze into the box before composure took over and he waited patiently for the right opening before stabbing the ball into the far corner.

There was a sour note in the first 45, however, as defender Kane Evans left the field on a stretcher after being knocked to the ground inside his own penalty area.

Peterborough had chances in the seven additional minutes that followed, with keeper Max Johnstone coming to Sunderland’s rescue as Shackleton powered his way through the middle.

The Posh continued to press high in the second 45 as they started the brighter of the two teams, Johnstone once again being forced into action as he saved Sunderland’s two-goal lead.

Kimpioka then dealt the visitors a sucker punch as he went to ground inside the area before calmly dispatching the resultant spot kick.

Penfold then gave the Posh what their efforts deserved as he pulled one back when he touched home Harrison Burrows’ cross from the right before Connelly snatched his second at the other end to restore Sunderland’s three-goal cushion.

But the pick of the goals came in the final 10 minutes as substitute Jake Hackett played a perfectly-weighted ball through the lines, taking out four Posh players in the process, and freeing Diamond down the inside left channel.

Diamond cut inside on his right and rolled the ball past the Posh stopper before later volleying home a corner from the right to seal his hat-trick and secure an empathetic victory to book Sunderland’s place in the knockout stages of the Premier League Cup.

Sunderland U23: Johnstone, Evans (Storey, 44), Hunter, Connolly, Taylor, Young, Connelly, Neil (Hackett, 62), Kimpioka (Slack, 68), Mumba, Diamond
Subs: Cameron, Leonard

Peterborough United U23: Allen, Douglas, Fosu, Gurney, Cartwright (Salmon, 85), Jones (Horne, 68), Burrows, Ruzvido, Shackleton, Penfold, Strachan
Subs: Rolt, Rudman, Smith

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