This is how it played out as Sunderland's Papa John's Trophy defence ends with chastening defeat

Sunderland’s Papa John’s Trophy defence was ended in the first knockout round by a spirited Oldham Athletic side.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 8:55 pm

The struggling League Two side took the lead through Harry Vaughan early in the second half, and in truth it was fair reward for their direct but dangerous display.

It proved to be a chastening night for a number of Sunderland’s young players, who laboured in search of an equaliser but created very few openings and fell to a deserved defeat.

Johnson had unsurprisingly named a much-changed XI with a number of players out of position, but there was a significant recall for Arbenit Xhemajli, making his first appearance since suffering a major knee injury in September last year.

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Oldham celebrate their goal at the Stadium of Light

The Black Cats started brightly, Harris springing his strike partner Benji Kimpioka clear with an excellent first-time pass. Kimpioka did the hard work as he sat his defender down in the box, but could only fire into the side netting.

Sunderland looked to be in the ascendancy, but in truth that did not last.

Oldham were lively, direct and significantly, finding acres of space in between Sunderland’s two wing backs. Time and time again they were able to break quickly, and only some excellent defending from Frederik Alves prevented them carving out a really good chance.

When Xhemajli made an excellent block to prevent a header from a corner going in, the home side looked a touch on the ropes.

They stepped it up before the break, Xhemajli and Embleton combining to tee up Harris, who fired wide from the edge of the area. Shortly afterwards Kimpioka returned the early favour by releasing Harris with a fine through ball, but after rounding the goalkeepe his effort was cleared just short of the line.

That was much improved, but Sunderland were fortunate that when Oldham carved out their best chance yet down the right, it was fired wide by Stobbs.

The Black Cats had an even younger side in the second half side, with Wearne and Kachosa replacing Embleton and Dajaku.

They started well, but found themselves behind after being caught from their own attacking corner. Dunne was left exposed from a long ball upfield, caught on the ball by Vaughan who ran through and fired past Burge.

It looked a long way back at that stage for a young group who had struggled to carve out chances.

That continued right into the closing stages, with Johnson’s side dominating possession but doing little to trouble Leutwiler in the Oldham goal.

They went close with ten to play when Alves headed a Wearne free kick over the bar, but the visitors were too comfortable for the most part.

Indeed they had most of the ball through the final ten, Sunderland struggling to open them up.

They forged one major opening when Dyce fired a cross to the back post, but Harris couldn’t make a connection with the goal gaping.

Burge would get forward for one final corner but Oldham survived and held on for a deserved win.

Sunderland XI: Burge; Alves, Xhemajli, Younger; Dajaku (Kachosa, 45), Wilding, O’Brien, Dunne (Dyce, 72) Embleton (Wearne, 45), Harris, Kimpioka

Subs: Carney, Almond, Johnson, Scott

Oldham Athletic XI: Leutwiler, Clarke, Cisse (Hopcutt, 77), Piergianni, Adams, Whelan (Bowden, 77), Hope (Bahamboula, 77), Keillor-Dunn, Stobbs (Dearnley, 58), Couto, Vaughan (Diarra, 64)

Subs: Southerington, McGahey

Bookings: Piergianni, 16 Adams, 27 Clarke, 77

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