Youngsters lead the way as Sunderland coast to Checkatrade Trophy win
Sunderland head into their mini break building good momentum after a 3-1 win over Carlisle United.
Though the League Two side offered little real resistance, the Black Cats showed more signs of their increasing fluidity and quality in a comfortable win.
To the delight of the 8,112 in attendance, both Benji Kimpioka and Ethan Robson registered their first senior goals, with club captain George Honeyman adding a third.
Jack Ross was without 14 players for the game but his starting XI still represented a significant step up in quality from the opening game of the group last month.
Their class was on show in the first half, far from perfect but creating plenty of openings.
In that sense, it differed little from many of the League One games so far this season.
It was Carlisle who had the best early opportunity, Robbin Ruiter making a smart stop at his near post as Liam McCarron ran in on goal.
The hosts had the leads within minutes, however, as Reece James fired a good early ball into the channel. Aiden McGeady coasted past his marker and stood up an inviting cross. Benji Kimpioka, making his full debut, headed home, though Adam Collin should have done better in the Carlisle goal.
McGeady looked close to his sharpest as he tormented his marker, while George Honeyman made inroads on the other flank. Twice his final ball let him down as Sunderland failed to capitalise on their obvious superiority.
They were punished 22 mintues in when Ashley Nadesan converted a long ball through the middle, Jack Baldwin seemingly misjudging the flight of the ball.
The hosts were short of their best but retook the lead when Ethan Robson, tidy and tenacious throughout, rifled in a superb half-volley.
That he was taken off with an injury just before the break was one of the evening's most disappointing developments.
Though Carlisle started the second half tidily, Sunderland began to impose themselves and were inches away from a third on the hour mark. Reece James again showed his quality on the ball, delivering a wicked cross from the byline. This time Collin succeeded where he had erred in the first half, palming away a far more powerful and dangerous header from Kimpioka.
When the goal finally came, it was a moment of quality that could have graced any cup competition.
Adam Matthews delivered an outrageous ball over the top with the outside of his boot, Honeyman springing the offside trap and slotting home past Collin.
With the game all but wrapped up the tempo dipped, though substitute Jack Diamond was inches away from making it a fairytale debut when he turned a Honeyman pass wide.
Lee Connelly was also given his senior debut from the bench as the Black Cats coasted to victory, and he himself could have scored with the last kick of the game, able only to shoot straight at Collin.
Sunderland XI: Ruiter; Matthews, Ozturk, Baldwin, James; McGeouch, Robson (O'Nien, 45), Honeyman; McGeady (Diamond, 79), Maguire, Kimpioka (Connelly,
Subs: Patterson, Hackett, Taylor, Gamble
Carlisle United XI: Collin; Miller, Liddle, Parkes, Gillesphey; Yates, Slater, Glendon (Adewusi, 87), McCarron (Jones, 56); Nadesan (Egan, 79), Campbell
Subs: Gray, Jones, Etuhu, Brown
Bookings: O'Nien, 71