THE Totesport Cup will barely register a flicker on the radar of Sunderland followers.
But Sunderland’s second string cruised to the top of their qualifying group in emphatic fashion at Eppleton CW with a 5-1 victory over an equally youthful Scunthorpe outfit last night.
The visitors could not handle the movement of Sunderland’s frontmen, with both Matthew Fletcher and two-goal substitute Jordan Laidler getting in behind the Iron defence almost at will.
The duo bagged three between them and could have added to their tally with a wealth of service coming their way.
Sunderland passed the ball around slickly through the promptings of Adam Reed, while right-winger Craig Lynch and Blair Adams supplied plenty of ammunition with their bursts forward from the flanks.
Scunthorpe were confined to their own half in the early stages without being seriously threatened and saw the hosts forced into a 14th-minute change when Jordan Cook went down from an innocuous challenge and the pacy Laidler took his place.
Laidler had the game’s first opportunity in the 23rd minute when he burst away from the Scunthorpe defence to latch onto Nathan Wilson’s ball over the top.
Iron keeper Sam Slocombe raced out of his goal and Laidler took it around him before chipping a shot towards the net from a narrow angle to the right of goal.
Centre-half Matthew Fells managed to track back though and headed the ball away from his own goal line.
Moments later, Reed scuffed a shot just past the post from the edge of the area.
Slocombe was forced to parry Nathan Luscombe’s back-post header behind on the half hour mark after the Sunderland left-winger got just enough on his effort to direct it at goal from Laidler’s right-wing cross.
Luscombe set up the opener in the 35th minute, though, when he drilled a cross in from the left and Fletcher got ahead of his man at the near post to poke it home with his right foot.
It was two a minute later when Lynch picked up the ball midway inside the Scunthorpe half and delivered a perfectly weighted pass down the outside of centre-half Joshua Greenhoff.
Laidler had darted inside on the diagonal from the left and swept the ball coolly into the far bottom corner beyond Slocombe.
The 19-year-old grabbed his second two minutes into the second half when he stroked the ball into the bottom corner from the D after being fed by Fletcher.
Three minutes later, Fletcher burst into the box past Greenhoff and let fly with a rising shot towards the far top corner which crashed off the underside of the bar.
But Scunthorpe were handed a lifeline in the 55th minute when Dan Madden tripped Paris Cowan-Hall as he jinked towards the by-line down the right of the box.
Jonathan Williams tucked away the resulting spot-kick low to Ben Wilson’s right.
Sunderland’s reply within two minutes was emphatic, with Lynch feeding Laidler on the right-hand touchline.
Laidler’s low pull-back was flicked cleverly by Fletcher into the path of the onrushing Lynch, who had continued his run and thrashed a half-volley into the roof of the net.
Sunderland rounded off their scoring with a fifth goal in stoppage time when substitute Billy Knott burst down the right into the area and curled the ball beyond Turner into the far corner.
SUNDERLAND RES: Ben Wilson, Marrs, Adams, Reed, Madden (Egan 66), Laing, Lynch (Knott 66), Nathan Wilson, Fletcher, Cook (Laidler 14), Luscombe. Subs not used: King, Elliott.
SCUNTHORPE RES: Slocombe (Turner 46), Comer, Jackson, Howe, Fells, Greenhoff, Adkins, Williams, Wint (Thomas 75), Cowan-Hall (Harris 87), Matthews. Subs not used: Ball.