Doncaster Rovers 1 Sunderland U21s 0 - Black Cats exit Checkatrade Trophy with a whimper

Doncaster Rovers score the winner at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Doncaster Rovers score the winner at the Keepmoat Stadium.
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Sunderland's hopes of progressing in the Checkatrade Trophy are over following a 1-0 defeat to Doncaster Rovers in Northern Group H.

Sunderland's second successive group game defeat means the Black Cats are out of the competition with a game to spare.

Issam Ben Khemis scored the only goal of a dire game 20 minutes from time to send League One Doncaster - who made eight changes - top of the group.

Sunderland, who named Jack Rodwell, Mika, Brendan Galloway and Donald Love in the side, were poor, failing to seriously threaten the Rovers goal all night.

Sunderland lined up with three centre backs; skipper Thomas Beadling, Rodwell and Galloway with Denver Hume and Donald Love in the wing back positions.

Andrew Nelson led the line with support from Rees Greenwood and Luke Molyneux.

Michael Woud, Sam Brotherton, Joel Asoro and Elliot Embleton were not involved as they are all away on international duty.

Duncan Watmore, who made his return from a serious knee injury in the draw with Preston North End at the weekend, was also not involved after his 30 minute run-out at Deepdale.

There was little action of note in the opening 15 minutes, Harry Toffolo curling a free-kick over the crossbar while Donald Love miscued an ambitious effort over the crossbar.

Jacob Fletcher warmed the gloves of Mika 17 minutes in but his effort from distance was comfortable for the Portugese stopper.

It was a pedestrian first half, neither side able to dominate possession with Sunderland failing to test Marko Marosi in the opening half hour, the Doncaster keeper enjoying a quiet night.

Rovers looked most likely to take the lead, skipper Andy Williams shooting over the bar after a superb turn inside the area.

Both sides were being patient in their build-up play, too patient, with both sides lacking a cutting edge.

Sunderland finally managed their first effort on goal 36 minutes in.

Ethan Robson's left-footed free-kick from the right flank was heading for the top corner until Marosi popped up to palm it over.

Doncaster went even closer on the stroke of half time, Mandeville's free-kick smashed off the woodwork, hitting the angle of the left-hand post and crossbar.

Sunderland made a switch at the break, Adam Bale on for Hume for the second half.

The second half was similar to the first with chances few and far between, Nelson working hard up front for Sunderland, almost in twice but Marosi out quickly to gather.

Up the other end Mika had to be alert on the hour mark, making an excellent save to tip wide sub James Morris' effort.

The breakthrough came in the 70th minute, Rodwell bringing the ball out of defence but he lost possession and Issam Ben Khemis pounced, Mandeville rolling the ball to him before he hit

a superb effort past Mika into the top-left corner.

Rodwell had done okay at the heart of a three man defence up until that point, playing in the sweeper role.

Sunderland barely threatened in the second half, a Greenwood free-kick nodded behind by the Rovers defence the closest they came to any real threat.

Rovers broke immediately, Mika saving from sub Morgan James in the closing stages. Molyneux forced a comfortable save with a header late on.

Sunderland travel to face Grimsby Town in the final group game in November with their fate already sealed.

FT: Doncaster Rovers 1 Sunderland Under-21s 0

Doncaster Rovers (3-5-2: Marosi, Alcock, Mason (Prior, 63), Williams (C) (Morris, 45), Fletcher, Khemis, Mandeville, Garratt, Toffolo (James, 63), Walker, Fielding.

Subs Not Used: Jones, Townrow.

Booked: None

Goals: Khemis (70)

Sunderland U21 (3-4-3): Mika 6, Love 5, Beadling (C) 6, Hume 5 (Bale, 45, 5), Galloway 5, E.Robson 5, Rodwell 5, Gamble 5 (Diamond, 79, 5), Greenwood 5, Molyneux 6, Nelson, 5.

Subs Not Used: Talbot, T. Robson, Taylor, Storey, Allan.

Booked: Love (38)

Goals: None

Referee Ross Joyce

Attendance: 1,520 (Sunderland 93)