KEVIN Ball’s Sunderland side fell behind just FOURTEEN seconds into their game against East Anglian opposition last night and struggled to recover from the terrible start.
The Canaries flew at the Black Cats from the opening whistle and gained instant reward when striker Jamar Loza sprinted straight through the defence and coolly slotted past keeper Joel Dixon.
Norwich were rampant in the minutes that followed with twin brothers Josh and Jacob Murphy featuring strongly – Josh sending a shot narrowly wide in the third minute, Jacob chopped down to earn a free-kick in the sixth.
It was Josh who doubled the lead on the quarter-hour when he beat the offside trap from Jacob’s pass, Sunderland keeper Dixon getting a glove to the shot but unable to stop it crossing the line.
Three minutes later Loza had the ball in the back of the net but the effort was ruled out for a foul on Dixon in the build-up.
A youthful Sunderland side could have crumbled but to their credit they showed character and dug in and Jordan Laidler produced his side’s first effort on goal in the 27th minute, veteran stopper Carlo Nash palming the ball around the post.
Ray Grant hit the post on the half-hour as Norwich pushed for their third but Sunderland squandered a great chance to get back into the game in the 41st minute when Cameron Norman brought down Carl Lawson for a penalty.
Nash, now 40, summoned all his experience to deny Laider from the spot and the Norwich man continued to thwart Laidler and Sunderland after the break.
The Black Cats had another good chance in the 52nd minute when Laidler pulled his shot wide with only Nash to beat.
And a Laidler shot on the hour from a free-kick in a good position went straight at Nash.
The home side came back into the game after that and Dixon made smart saves from goalscorers Loza and Murphy to keep the Black Cats in the game.
But his resistance was finally broken in the 90th minute when Josh Murphy grabbed his second, and Norwich’s third of the night in stoppage time.
Sunderland could have no complaints about the final scoreline but they probably spent some of the long journey home wondering what might have been had they been able to convert the penalty just before the break to make it 2-1 at the interval.