Sunderland adapting to Charlie Wyke as Wembley trip edges closer: Six things we learned from Newcastle United U21s win
Sunderland are through to the quarter-finals of the Checkatrade Trophy after a comfortable 4-0 victory over Newcastle Under-21s - but what did we learn from the win?
Jack Ross' side didn't have it all their own way and were left frustrated for large spells during a goalless first half at the Stadium of Light.
Yet once the Black Cats opened the scoring, courtesy of an own goal from Kelland Watts, the result never looked in doubt, as Charlie Wyke, Chris Maguire and Benji Kimpioka added their names to the scoresheet in the second half.
We've picked out some of the main talking points from the victory:
Charlie Wyke can be a handful if Sunderland play to his strengths
Charlie Wyke is back among the goals after scoring for the first time since the knee injury he suffered at Burton.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the 26-year-old striker, as the hosts grew increasingly frustrated during a goalless first half against the young Magpies.
With Chris Maguire, Duncan Watmore and Jerome Sinclair playing behind Wyke in the first 45 minutes, the Black Cats struggled to get the best out of their 6 ft 2 frontman.
Before the half-time interval, many of Wyke’s aerial knockdowns were picked up by opposing players, as Sunderland's attacks tried to recalibrate onto the same wavelength.
It’s clear Wyke offers something very different to top scorer Josh Maja, but can still be a real asset for Jack Ross’ side.
In the second half, the side played more to Wyke’s strengths and were rewarded as the striker netted his second goal in a red and white shirt.
Black Cats show patience to pass an awkward test
Like many sides in League One this season, Newcastle sat deep and set up to frustrate Sunderland, while looking to hit them on the break.
For 45 minutes Ben Dawson’s well-drilled side frustrated the Black Cats, who, despite dominating possession, lacked invention in the first 45 minutes.
Jack Ross’ side had to be patient, keep their concentration and wait for their opponents to crack.
That’s exactly what happened as Kelland Watts put through his own net early in the second half.
From there, the result looked inevitable.
Derby day feel fizzles out
A crowd of 16,654 (including 2,780 Newcastle fans) were present at the Stadium of Light to watch the much-anticipated clash.
Both sets of fans were in good voice too, which was evident during a rather uneventful first half.
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But despite all the build-up, there was no getting away from the fact this wasn’t the Wear-Tyne derby as we know it.
Sunderland supporters may have felt a little edgy after their side failed to score before the break.
But, once the Black Cats made the breakthrough shortly after the interval, the result rarely looked in doubt.
It was all rather routine in the end.
Benji Kimpioka shows his huge potential
Sunderland lacked pace, invention and creativity in the first 45 minutes but the second half was different story all together.
That was partly down to the introduction of Kimpioka, who added a cutting edge to the Black Cats’ forward line.
The Swedish teenager was difficult to stop and stretched Newcastle’s backline with his pace and trickery.
His performance was rewarded with a late goal following a defensive mix-up from the visitors.
Duncan Watmore is still on the comeback trail
Such has been the hype surrounding the striker’s return, it’s easy to forget Watmore has just returned to competitive football following a year-long injury.
Watmore, 24, has made huge strides in recent weeks and made an impact in Jack Ross’ first team.
Yet the forward’s progress appeared to stall against Newcastle, as Watmore struggled to make an impact out on the left.
The forward was replaced at half-time with Ross confirming he picked up a ‘slight groin injury’.
Wembley final now just two games away
The Black Cats are now just two games away from a Wembley final after reaching the last eight of the competition.
From now on the competition will not be regionalised, meaning Sunderland could draw any of the remaining teams left in.
They include: Manchester City Under-21s, Bury, Cheltenham, Bristol Rovers, Port Vale, Portsmouth or the winners of Chelsea Under-21s v Peterborough.
The quarter-finals will be played the week commencing Monday, January 21 following Sunderland’s trip to Scunthorpe.