Sunderland coach says there's still room for improvement after reaching Durham Challenge Cup final

Sunderland Under-23s coach Elliott Dickman believes there is still room for improvement after his side reached the Durham Challenge Cup Final with a 4-2 win at Seaham Red Star.

Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 8:12 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 11:48 am
Sunderland Under-23s boss Elliott Dickman.

The Black Cats youngsters made the perfect start at the Ferguson Motor Repairs Stadium when Stanley Asomugha fired them ahead from close-range within the first minutes of the game.

Liam Gillesphey got the Northern League side back on level-terms just after the half-hour, but Cieran Dunne restored the Black Cats’ lead with a cool finish before half-time.

Vinnie Steele gave Dickman’s side a two-goal advantage for the first time in the tie on 54 minutes when he volleyed home from eight yards.

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But a dogged and determined Red Star side got back in the game with a Paul Gardiner goal after the hour-mark.

However, their hopes of causing an upset were ended when Dunne fired home his second goal of the night with just under 20 minutes remaining.

After the game, Dickman admitted that his side will need to improve if they are to deliver the club’s first Durham Challenge Cup Final win since 2008.

He told The Echo: “In the first half, they made it very difficult for us because they are very good on set-piece and they have a game-plan that works for them.

“I don’t think we stood up to it and I was quite disappointed with how we played in the first half.

“I just felt we were intimidated by them and that means it’s a great learning experience for the players.

“We need to try and control the game a little bit more and it means that we can dictate the game rather than letting them dictate it.

“There were moments when we didn’t control much of the game and we will need to improve on that.

“But I am pleased that we have an opportunity to get into the final and it will be a good test for the lads.”

Dickman’s side will face Spennymoor Town in the final after the National League North side claimed a 4-1 home win against Northern League Division One leaders Stockton Town at Brewery Field.