SUNDERLAND romped into the knock-out stages of the Totesport Cup after their young guns proved far too good for Hartlepool United’s old hands.
Two goals apiece for Ryan Noble and the impressive Craig Lynch plus an opener from Nathan Luscombe set up a convincing win for the Black Cats which could easily have been by a healthier margin.
Pools may have boasted seasoned campaigners including former Republic of Ireland international Joe Gamble and 90-career goal striker Adam Boyd, but Sunderland’s side of youth teamers and young professionals were hungrier, quicker and sharper.
The pace and movement of strike duo Matthew Fletcher and Noble proved too much for the Pools defence to handle as Sunderland took their purple patch in front of goal to 14 in three games.
Lynch and Luscombe, on the flanks, provided a regular supply of ammunition as Sunderland made it four inside 34 minutes before Pools improved marginally after the break.
Sunderland took the lead in the sixth minute with a splash of quality when Lynch picked it up on halfway and threaded an inch-perfect ball inside Pools right-back Dylan Purvis.
Luscombe had darted in from the left on the diagonal and controlled with a solid first touch before unleashing a powerful left-footed drive into the far corner from 20 yards.
The Black Cats doubled the lead in the 13th minute when Fletcher fed Noble with a well-weighted ball down the left-hand channel – the striker hitting a right-footed shot across Andy Rafferty which the keeper parried.
The ball rolled out to Fletcher, whose right-footed drive across goal was again pushed away by Rafferty but only as far as Lynch, who tapped in.
The woodwork denied Lynch a second in the 27th minute when he bobbled a shot at goal from 20 yards which deceived Rafferty and bounced flush off the post.
The third did arrive a minute later when Noble darted inside from the left, played a neat one-two with Luscombe and tucked the return ball over Rafferty into the far corner.
Sunderland made it four in the 34th minute when Noble dinked a pass in behind Pools’ back line which Fletcher chased onto and out-muscled Purvis.
Fletcher looked up and sent in a low cross for Lynch, who got ahead of his man and got just enough on the ball to wrong-foot Rafferty and bobble it into the net.
Pools finally mustered some life on the stroke of half-time when Boyd chested the ball down on the edge of the area and looped a volley over Ben Wilson, only for it to crash back off the bar.
Sunderland made it five 31 seconds after the break when Lynch pulled it back from the right-hand touchline into the path of Noble, who swept it home from 10 yards.
Only a smart save from Rafferty denied Noble a hat-trick four minutes later when the keeper spread himself well to block the striker’s stab at goal from Fletcher’s through-ball.
Pools almost pulled one back in the 52nd minute, but Armann Bjornsson’s drive from 18 yards clipped the outside of the post on its way out.
Lynch was then denied his treble when he showed good strength going through to the right of goal and struck a decent shot which Rafferty did excellently to tip over the bar.
The right winger had another chance to seal his hat-trick three minutes from time but poked the ball straight at Rafferty as he darted inside from the left.
SUNDERLAND: B Wilson, Marrs Adams, Reed, Madden, Laing (Watson 74), Lynch, N Wilson, Fletcher, Noble, Luscombe. Subs not used: King, Knott, Gorrin, Laidler
HARTLEPOOL: Rafferty, Purvis (Richards 46), Holden, Gamble, Johnson, Bjornsson, Larkin (Martin 78), Yantorno, Boyd (Hassan 46), Behan, Mackay. Subs not used: Rowbotham, Hawkins