Diamond shines as Sunderland U23s kick-off cup campaign with a win
Sunderland under-23s kicked-off their Premier League Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over Charlton Athletic.
In another much-improved performance, goals either side of the break from Williams Kokolo and Jack Diamond secured a comfortable victory over the Londoners.
Elliott Dickman once again rotated his young squad and made five changes from the side that narrowly lost to Aston Villa a week ago - with forward Benji Kimpioka absent from the side ahead of the Black Cats' Checkatrade Trophy clash with Carlisle.
Chances were at a premium in the early stages as both teams struggling to get to grips with the troublesome wind.
But it was Charlton who threatened first, with Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu seeing a low shot well-held by the diving Max Johnstone.
Down the other end, the trickery of Lee Connelly created a shooting opportunity - only for the wideman to be denied by visiting stopper Ashley Maynard-Brewer.
It was to be Sunderland who took the lead though, with Kokolo taking a long ball from Jake Hackett in his stride before firing into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
And that sparked the game into life, with Diamond close to adding a second with a drilled effort from 20 yards moments later before the lively Sarpong-Wiredu curled over as the Addicks sought a leveller.
The weather continued to play its part in the second half, but that didn't seem to stifle Sunderland who came within a whisker of doubling their lead when Diamond flashed a shot just wide of the far post.
But the impressive Diamond wouldn't have to wait long to get on the scoresheet as he sent a sweetly-struck effort into the top corner after Kokolo teed him up.
Daniel Neil, making his first start for the under-23s, could have then added some gloss to the scoreline but saw an effort saved from close range.
Charlton were still threatening though, with Johnstone making a fine save from Terrique Anderson before claims that the resultant corner has crossed the line fell on deaf ears.
And it was the visitors who applied most of the late pressure without really troubling Johnstone as the Black Cats held on for a deserved victory.
Sunderland U23s: Johnstone, Gamble, Hunter (Taylor 76), Connolly, Storey, Young, Connelly, Hackett (Bale 82), Diamond (Kiernan 80), Neil, Kokolo
Subs not used: Patterson, Bainbridge
Charlton U23s: Maynard-Brewer, Barton, Zemura, Dempsey, Cummings, Blumberg, Sarpong-Wiredu, Anderson (French 82), Ocran, Carey (Mascoll 65), Doughty (Vennings 65)
Subs not used: Osaghe, Isiaka
Goals: Kokolo (36), Diamond (56)
Bookings: Storey (77) ; Anderson (43), Dempsey (70)
Referee: Mr Andrew Miller