THE EAGLE-EYED rookies in Sunderland’s academy are not short of role models.
There has been a clear line of succession from the juvenile ranks to the first team over the last three years which promises to continue, with Ryan Noble the latest to press his case for Premier League inclusion.
But the first real exposure for the peer group of Noble, Jordan Henderson, Jack Colback and Martyn Waghorn arrived in 2008 when they charged to the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup.
Those hoping to earn similar limelight in the competition fell short at a bitingly cold Eppleton CW last night as Nottingham Forest recovered from going a goal down to punish Sunderland for their wastefulness in the final third.
Kevin Ball’s side dominated possession with the clever George Honeyman pulling the strings from central midfield and the pacy Adam Mitchell offering an outlet on the left flank.
Yet, for all their promise, Sunderland lacked conviction with their finishing and precision with their crossing.
A well-organised Forest side, who were always a threat on the counter-attack, made them pay, with two goals either side of the break from striker Patrick Bamford enough to see them advance to the fourth round.
Sunderland should have gone ahead as early as the ninth minute when Jordan Laidler kept in Glen Lane’s corner from the right.
The ball bounced back into the path of Lane, whose cushioned cross was somehow headed over the top by Mikael Mandron from a couple of yards out.
Mandron was again left red-faced within a minute when he pounced on Laidler’s slide-rule pass, but, with only goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov to beat, he side-footed a weak shot comfortably into the stopper’s grasp.
Honeyman showed more composure when he headed home Sunderland’s opener in the 26th minute.
After a slick piece of passing midway inside the Forest half, Lane played a one-two with Mandron before receiving the return ball down the left-hand side of the area and lifting a left-footed cross to the back stick.
With Evtimov caught out, Honeyman was left with the simplest of tasks to nod the ball in from point-blank range.
Forest had a chance to level within five minutes when Elliott Ackroyd lifted a long punt over the top for rangy striker Bamford to chase onto.
Bamford stepped inside but took too long to get his shot away, allowing Thomas McNamee to block it behind.
Sunderland responded with Mitchell screwing a left-footed shot wide of the far post after being slipped in down the left-hand channel by Mandron.
Forest drew level in the 35th minute when Jack Blake again found Bamford the wrong side of the Sunderland backline.
This time, Bamford kept his cool, wrong-footing Black Cats keeper Jordan Pickford with a dummy before lifting the ball into the gaping net.
Bamford doubled his tally to give Forest the lead just four minutes into the second half when he was left unmarked six yards out to head home Blake’s free-kick from the right.
Sunderland responded immediately, with Laidler seeing his right-footed shot from 15 yards pushed on to the post by Evtimov.
Laidler had an even better chance to level in the 56th minute when Honeyman slipped him in to the right of goal, only to see his rising shot tipped over the top by Evtimov.
Sunderland threatened again in the 67th minute when Mitchell played in Mandron down the left whose pull-back was met on the half-volley by Honeyman. The well-struck effort was straight at Evtimov though who gathered cleanly.
Forest should have made the victory more emphatic in stoppage time, only for substitute Derrick Otim to over-complicate when through one-on-one after hitting the hosts on the break.
SUNDERLAND: Pickford, Noble, Callaghan, Oliver, McNamee, Lavender, Mitchell, Honeyman, Laidler, Mandron (Thomas 74), Lane (Cartwright 60). Subs not used: Gibbons, Maddison, Martin.
NOTTM FOREST: Evtimov, Ackroyd, Andrews, Morgan, Gorman, Fenton, Blake, Hollingsworth, Bamford, Gnahore (Otim 90), Osborn. Subs not used: Swindell, Smith, Sebastiao, Kamaneno. Attendance: 215