Report: Lads top Group F in Papa John's Trophy

Sunderland AFC 1-1 Bradford City – BCAFC claim bonus point via penalties

Sunderland secured top spot in Group F and a home tie in the next round of the Papa John’s Trophy following a 1-1 draw with Bradford City on Tuesday night. 

The Lads saw plenty of the ball during the opening period at the Stadium of Light, but Theo Robinson’s close-range finish handed the visitors the advantage at the break.

A fantastic effort from Nathan Broadhead levelled the tie on 52 minutes, as the on-loan Everton striker took the ball down and fired an excellent finish into the bottom corner.

Superb last-ditch defending denied Will Harris as the Lads searched for a winner after Leon Dajaku’s saved effort looped into the air, with an Alex Pritchard free-kick shaking the crossbar in stoppage time. 

Penalties were taken despite both sides knowing their fate heading into the shootout, and the visitors ran out winners as Gareth Evans slammed home the winning spot kick.

The draw for the last 32 of the competition will take place on Saturday, with the Black Cats back in action on 20 November when Ipswich Town travel to Wearside. 

Lee Johnson made seven changes from the side that faced Mansfield Town three days prior, as Thorben Hoffmann returned and youngsters Ollie Younger, Kenton Richardson and Harrison Sohna were handed an opportunity to impress. 

Fellow academy graduate Elliot Embleton also returned and the attacking midfielder mustered the first attempt of the encounter, weaving into a central area before his deflected effort was saved. 

The Bantams created a couple of half-chances prior to the midway point of the first 45, but Hoffmann was equal to them and he comfortably stopped efforts from Charles Vernam and Fiacre Kelleher. 

Unfortunately the German could do little prevent the opener, as Reece Staunton fired a low ball across the face of goal and Robinson converted from close range. 

Dajaku almost provided a response before the interval, but the German Under-20 international was denied after breezing past his man and curling an effort at goal. 

Scorer of the winning goal in last season’s final, Lynden Gooch – featuring at left-back – turned provider and Richardson went close at the back post on the stroke of half-time, as the Bantams remained in charge heading into the second period.

The Lads continued to push forward following the restart and they levelled on 52 minutes, with Broadhead slamming an unstoppable half-volley beyond Sam Hornsby and into the corner. 

After Dajaku’s effort was well-saved, substitute Harris was denied by an outstanding point-blank block after coming off the bench, as the Black Cats searched for a winner. 

Elliot Watt blazed high and wide following a rare Bradford counter attack, but the closest either side came to a winner was when Pritchard’s free-kick rattled the crossbar in added time.

Despite Sunderland confirming their place atop the group and the visitors being out before a spot kick was taken, penalties were played and Evans scored the decisive effort to secure a bonus point for the visitors.

The draw for the last 32 of the competition will take place on Saturday, with the Lads poised to continue their Papa John’s Trophy defence on home soil.   

Sunderland AFC: Hoffmann, Richardson, Younger, Alves, Gooch, O'Nien, Sohna (Winchester 73), Embleton (Taylor 73), Pritchard, Dajaku, Broadhead (Harris 57)

Subs not used: Burge, O'Brien, Wright, Dyce.

Bradford City: Hornby, Threlkeld, Cooke, Foulds, Vernam (Sutton 61), Kelleher, Evans, Angol, Robinson (Gilliead 61), Staunton, Scales. 

Subs not used: O’Donnell, Canavan, Songo’o, Watt.

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