Sunderland AFC 0-1 Oldham Athletic
Sunderland’s defence of the Papa John’s Trophy came to an end on Wednesday night as Oldham Athletic took a 1-0 victory home from the Stadium of Light.
Harry Vaughan netted the decisive goal nine minutes into the second half, as a predominantly young side gained further senior experience.
Lee Johnson named another youthful side in the competition as he took on the club with whom he began his management career, Arbenit Xhemajli warming Wearsiders’ hearts with a first senior appearance in over 14 months following a severe knee ligament injury.
Benji Kimpioka, Cieran Dunne and Sam Wilding all started the match for the first time this season too, whilst Elliot Embleton captained the side, joined by fellow experienced heads Aiden O’Brien and Lee Burge.
The first half did witness opportunities at both ends, the Lads arguably shading the better of them with Kimpioka sending a defender sprawling with a neat stepover before firing a left-footed shot wide; Will Harris then sent two shots off target – one via a deflection from a tight angle after Kimpioka had played him in behind.
Oldham showed bravery going forward themselves, and forced a series of set-pieces throughout the first 45 minutes – one of which almost finding the net but for a solid block from Fred Alves to deny Hallam Hope.
Jack Stobbs later found himself in behind down the right-hand side, but steered his effort just wide – the referee deeming Burge to have reached the shot despite his protests.
Oldham’s opener arrived after the break, Vaughan capitalising on a defensive lapse to run through and sweep the ball into the net.
Chances appeared to dry up over the course of the beginning of the second half, but the period after the interval allowed the likes of Stephen Wearne, Ethan Kachosa and Tyrese Dyce to earn valuable first-team minutes.
Dunne did threaten after getting in behind down the left, before forcing Jayson Leutwiler into a smart stop with a firm hit from an acute angle.
Fred Alves was next to try his luck, heading Wearne’s free-kick delivery from the left after good work from Kimpioka to draw the foul.
At the other end as the closing stages fell, Burge was called into action as he palmed away skipper Carl Piergianni’s long-range effort, before substitute Jamie Bowden volleyed over the bar.
The Lads were unable to find a leveller on the night, Dyce's inviting cross fizzing right across the six-yard box being the last big shout, and now refocus on league action as Oxford United visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.
SUNDERLAND AFC: Burge, Dajaku (Kachosa 46’), Alves, Xhemajli, Younger, Dunne (Dyce 73’), Wilding, O’Brien, Embleton © (Wearne 46’), Kimpioka, Harris.
Subs not used: Carney, Almond, Scott, Johnson.
Oldham Athletic: Leutwiler, Clarke, Cisse (Hopcutt 80’), Piergianni ©, Adams, Whelan (Bowden 80’), Hope (Bahamboula 80’), Keillor-Dunn, Stobbs (Dearnley 59’), Couto, Vaughan (Diarra 64’).
Subs not used: Southerington, McGahey.