TWO LATE goals denied Sunderland’s second string a share of the spoils after a 2-0 defeat at Everton.
Keith Bertschin’s side held their own against a strong Toffees outfit featuring hotshot youngster Ross Barkley and new signing James McFadden.
But they were undone twice in the final 10 minutes as full-back Liam Marrs turned the ball into his own net before Conor McAleny wrapped up the victory after profiting from a David Meyler error.
Meyler completed a second successive 90 minutes for the reserves though while there were run-outs for Louis Laing and James McClean, also unused substitutes for the first-team at Arsenal last weekend.
Sunderland handed a trial to former Wolves youngster Aristote Guerin-Lokonga too, before the striker was replaced by Oumare Tounkara for the final half hour.
In a first half low on goalmouth action, Everton defender Tyias Browning was forced to clear off his own line from a Sunderland corner before James Wallace blazed over the bar from six-yards out at the other end.
Sunderland thought they had gone ahead on the hour mark when Jordan Cook’s effort sailed over ex-Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann, only for Browning to again clear at the death.
The Black Cats appealed that the ball had crossed the line, but their claims fell on deaf ears.
Barkley then saw a shot deflected just over before Everton made the breakthrough in the 82nd minute when Adan Forshaw burst from deep and saw his cross deflected past Lewis King by Marrs.
Everton doubled their lead within a minute when Barkley pressurised Meyler into a misplaced backpass and McAleny pounced – racing clear before beating King.
Sunderland almost grabbed a consolation, only for Hahnemann to deny Black Cats substitute Roarie Deacon with a smart one-handed stop.
Keith Bertschin’s side are next in action on Wednesday, October 26 (kick-off 7pm) when they travel to Hartlepool in the Tote Cup.
EVERTON: Hahnemann, Browning, Bidwell, Mustafi, Touray, Forshaw, Wallace (Orenuga 75), Barkley, Gueye, McFadden (McAleny 46), Stracqualursi (Forrester 46). Subs not used: Davies, Lundstram.
SUNDERLAND: King, Marrs, Bagnall, Laing, Egan, Knott (Deacon 73), Meyler, Armstrong, McClean, Lokonga (Tounkara 60), Cook. Subs not used: B Wilson, Mitchell, Elliott.