It was an unhappy return to Wearside for ex-Sunderland striker Darren Bent as his Derby County U23 side were beaten 2-1 by the young Black Cats.
Elliott Dickman’s options were depleted due to first team involvement for the likes of Ethan Robson, Josh Maja and Joel Asoro, loan deals and the Under-18s being involved in FA Youth Cup action.
But they produced a spirited display to brush aside an experienced Derby side which included striker Bent, Jason Shackell and Scotland international Ikechi Anya.
Aston Villa spent £18million to sign Bent from Sunderland in January 2011, but it became a miserable move for the ex-England striker, who was farmed out on loan to Fulham, Brighton and Derby before signing for the Rams.
He made little impact against Sunderland Under-23’s as Dan Wright scored twice in each half to claim an impressive victory in Premier League 2 at Eppleton CW, Hetton.
Sunderland took the lead 34 minutes in, under pressure from Wright, Hartlepool-born Rams stopper Jono Mitchell scuffed his clearance straight to the midfielder who scored.
Wright netted his second eight minutes into the second half, capitalising after a Derby defender appeared to kick the ball out of Mitchell’s grasp.
Luke Thomas pulled a goal back for the visitors late on. Victory saw Sunderland climb a place to 10th in Premier League 2, just three points off Derby in 7th.
SAFC: Woud, Gamble, J Robson, Beadling, Taylor, Storey, Wright, Embleton, Greenwood, Allan, Brotherton. Subs: Edmundsson, Talbot, Poame, Slack.