Wolves U-21s 1 Sunderland U-21s 1: Black Cats knocked out of Checkatrade Trophy 4-3 on penalties
Sunderland Under-21s have been knocked out of the Checkatrade Trophy after losing 4-3 to Wolves on penalties.
Bright Enobakhare had put Wolves in front 13 minutes in at Molineux with a smart finish after rounding Vito Mannone before Sunderland hit back almost immediately.
Thomas Beadling with a stunning strike from distance to level the scores in the first knockout game of the competition.
The northern section second round tie was a competitive encounter and one which had to be decided on penalties.
Sunderland had raced into a 3-1 lead in the shootout but Luke Molyneux and George Honeyman missed their attempts and Wolves clawed it back to run out 4-3 winners.
As expected, Sunderland named a youthful side with Mannone the only senior player involved at Molineux.
Winger Rees Greenwood wasn't involved after undergoing an operation on an ankle injury earlier in the day.
The competition, previously known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, was revamped in the summer with 16 teams with Academy 1 status from the Premier League and Championship invited to enter.
Both Sunderland and Wolves have Academy 1 status and the rules of the competition state ‘invited clubs’ have to name six players under the age of 21 in their starting line-up.
As a result, the game at Molineux was effectively a glorified academy match.
The Checkatrade Trophy has come in for heavy criticism this season, with attendances poor across the group stage of the competition.
And this game was no different. Just 1,118 hardy souls braved the freezing temperatures at the 31,000-seater capacity stadium.
On a bitterly cold evening at a sparse Molineux, Sunderland created the first opening of the game.
Captain Mannone played the ball out quickly to Josh Robson, the right-back playing in Joel Asoro down the wing.
His clever play saw him create space before crossing for Josh Maja but the Sunderland forward was quickly closed down, his shot blocked.
Sunderland were made to pay, with the hosts taking the lead after 13 minutes. Bright Enobakhare rounding Mannone before cooly slotting home, his sixth goal of the season.
The Black Cats were almost immediately level, Maja beat the offside trap and smashed a low right-footed effort pasy Harry Burgoyne, the ball rebounding off the left-hand post.
It wasn't long before the equaliser, courtesy of the right boot of Thomas Beadling.
Playing in midfield, Beadling struck a stunning effot from 25-yards out, the ball flew past Burgoyne into the top right-hand corner of the net - sparking cheers from the travelling
Sunderland fans in the 17th minute.
Sunderland should have taken the lead 24 minutes in, Swedish teenager Joel Asoro did brilliantly to beat two Wolves defenders and carve out space for a shot.
But his effort was weak and Burgoyne able to parry the ball to safety.
There was a brief break in play after Wolves defender Regan Upton went down under a heavy challenge from Maja, Upton eventually carried off the pitch on a stretcher.
Sunderland ended the half on top, with Honeyman and Asoro causing problems down the right flank as the sides went in level at half-time.
Half-time: Wolves U-21s 1 Sunderland U-21s 1
There was little to separate the sides in the opening stages of the second half, with Wolves enjoying the lions share of the possession.
Wolves skipper Connor Ronan was dictating play in the centre of midfield, his 60th minute free-kick deflecting over the Sunderland crossbar.
The hosts were dominating possession but Mannone had rarely been tested, the Italian playing his second game for the second string since returning from a shoulder injury.
Mannone was finally forced into a save with 69 minutes gone, a smart low stop after Enobakhare's effort deflected off Michael Ledger.
Pacy Will Randall the next Wolves player to test Mannone, his 20-yard effort comfortably gathered as the game entered the final 20 minutes.
Sunderland made their second substitute with ten minutes to go, appropriately named Luke Molyneux on for Beadling.
Enobakhare was a thorn in Sunderland's side all evening, the striker almost putting Wolves in front in the 82 minute. Mannone stood up tall, though, to block at his near post.
Wolves had dominated for large periods of the second half and almost scored through Randall, he cut inside before curling a fine right-footed effort off Mannone's left-hand post.
It was another big chance for the hosts and one they should have scored.
Neither side could find a breakthrough in normal time so the tie went straight to a penalty shoot-out.
Penalties (SAFC 3 Wolves 4): 1-0 (E. Robson), 1-1 (Ronan), 2-1 (Lawson), 2-1 (Deslandes MISS), 3-1 (Maja), 3-2 (Enobakhare), 3-2 (Molyneux MISS), 3-3 (Gibbs-White), 3-3 (Honeyman MISS), 3-4 (Carnat).
Full-time: Wolves U-21s 1 Sunderland U-21s 1 (Wolves win 4-3 on penalties)
Wolves Under-21s (4-4-2): Burgoyne, Simpson, Upton (Breslin, 28), Johnson, Delandes, Ronan (C), Herc, Carnat, Enobakhare, Randall, Gibbs-White.
Subs Not Used: Brown, Armstrong, Leak,Levingstone, Finnie, Delacoe.
Booked: Johnson (79)
Goals: Enobakhare (13)
Sunderland Under-21s (4-3-3): Mannone, J Robson, T Robson, Ledger, Brady, Beadling (Molyneux, 80), E Robson, Embleton (Nelson, 72), Honeyman, Asoro (Lawson, 90), Maja.
Subs Not Used: Talbot, Pybus, Wright, Casey.
Booked: Nelson (84), Molyneux (89)
Goals: Beadling (17)
Referee: Mark Heywood (West Yorkshire)