New Zealand international Sam Brotherton made his debut but it was an afternoon to forget for Elliott Dickman’s Under-23 side after they were beaten 5-3 by Burnley.
Sunderland need just a point to progress from their Premier League Cup group but they came away from the North West pointless following their first defeat of the competition.
Dickman handed a first start to Brotherton, who joined the Under-23 set-up in February, but he was powerless to prevent a strong Burnley side.
Burnley’s Daniel Agyei broke the deadlock inside 22 minutes with a surging run from deep before two goals in four minutes saw the Black Cats turn the match on its head at Stockport’s Edgeley Park.
Rees Greenwood drilled an effort into the bottom corner on the half-hour mark and then Josh Maja slotted home to give Dickman’s side a well-deserved lead.
Burnley turned the game in their favour with two goals before half-time; Agyei levelled the score with a header on 37 minutes before Jimmy Dunne gave the hosts a 3-2 half-time lead.
The hosts made sure of their win in the second-half, Arlen Birch netted an acrobatic scorpion kick before a trialist made it five in the 69th minute.
Maja scored from the spot in the 87th minute but it was too little too late for Dickman’s side, who play Blackburn Rovers at Leyland County Ground on Thursday in their final group game.
The top two teams advance to the knockout stage of the competition.