Sunderland U23s lost an enthralling cup tie with Newcastle United this evening at the Stadium of Light on penalties.
Both sides found the net twice, leaving the two teams level once normal time had elapsed. Ultimately, it would take eleven rounds of a penalty shootout to decide the winner and - unfortunately - the victors would be Newcastle.
Anyhow, here’s how the lads got on...
Sunderland: Max Stryjek, Josh Robson, Denver Hume, Elliot Embleton, Brendon Taylor, Brendan Galloway, Luke Molyneux, Jake Hackett, Connor Shields, Lynden Gooch, Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka
Subs: Alex Storey, Jason Talbot, Owen Gamble, Lee Connelly, Williams Kokolo, Bali Mumba
Newcastle: Paul Woolston, Craig Spooner, Josef Yarney, Curtis Good, Michael Newberry, Jack Hunter, Victor Fernandez, Mo Sangare, Luke Charman, Mackenzie Heaney, Callum Roberts
Subs: Stefan O'Connor, Otto Huuhtanen, Ben Kitchen, Yasin Ben Elmhanni, Owen Gallacher, Callum Smith, Tyrique, Bartlett
The visitors dominated the opening exchanges, playing out from the back and knocking the ball around with ease as Sunderland struggled to get to a foot on the ball. Victor Fernandez had the Magpies' first meaningful attempt of the game, the left winger's right footed shot curling high and wide of Max Stryjek's goal.
Then Lynden Gooch sprung into life in the 10th minute, the American cut inside from the right hand side, playing a deft one-two with Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka, before his effort was cleared off the line by the covering Michael Newberry.
Mbunga-Kimpioka posed a serious to Newcastle's right hand side, the Swede's pace, power and skill causing full back Craig Spooner and centre back Curtis Good some serious problems.
But, it was Good who broke the deadlock in the 30th minute, the 24-year-old flattened the covering Brandon Taylor to powerfully head home an in-swinging free-kick from Callum Roberts.
Gooch picked up a needless yellow card for a bad tackle on Luke Charman as the home side's frustrations built.
However, he managed win a penalty for Sunderland after a foul in the box by Mackenzie Heaney, the 22-year-old number ten cooly dispatched the spot kick, sending 'keeper Paul Woolston the wrong way to level the scores with half-time five minutes away.
Sunderland regained the impetus and Woolston had to be at his best to produce an acrobatic save to tip Mbunga-Kimpioka's deflected effort just over the bar
HT: Sunderland 1-1 Newcastle
Alex Storey replaced Taylor for Sunderland at half-time with the defender still struggling from an injury sustained in the mile surrounding Good's opener for Newcastle.
Heaney nearly made up for his first half calamity by sending the ball through to Charman, the striker danced around a flailing Stryjek only to be denied by a superb last-ditch sliding tackle from Josh Robson - quality positioning by the Sunderland defender to save a certain goal.
A boring second-half burst into life when Connor Shields crossed a delightful ball into Gooch who lashed it home from close range in the 67th minute - the goal caused the small Geordie contingent to rip up seats in the South Stand, what a lovely bunch. The assist proved Shields' last contribution as the striker was substituted for Jack Diamond.
Sunderland looked to be seeing the game nicely out until a late free-kick was expertly converted from range by Roberts to break Sunderland hearts (and mine), taking the game into extra-time.
FT: Sunderland 2-2 Newcastle
Extra Time - First Half
Seconds into the first half of extra time and Newcastle won a penalty through some pretty rash Sunderland defending. Roberts stepped up and lashed a shot into towards the corner, but, incredibly big Stryjek superbly pushed the effort round the post - Sorensen verses Shearer at St. James Park-esque.
HT ET: Sunderland 2-2 Newcastle
Extra Time - Second Half
Charman missed the target from 9 yards out with a header with a decent chance as Newcastle looked to take control.
Then Fernandez blasted a shot at goal which thundered against the upright, seconds later Good hit the post again for the Visitors - Elliot Dickman's men extremely lucky not to concede.
FT ET: Sunderland 2-2 Newcastle
Newcastle won the toss and scored their first penalty through Charman, who beat Stryjek with a powerful strike.
Both teams scored four of their penalties and missed one, meaning that the shootout dragged on into sudden death - and it wasn’t resolved quickly. Even the ‘keepers ended up taking one against eachother!
Newcastle’s Charman eventually won it for the Mags, when he converted to make it 10-11 before Hackett followed with a Sergio Ramos like spoon over the bar ending a mammoth penalty shootout.
FT ET: Sunderland 2-2 Newcastle (Newcastle won 10-11 on penalties)
Max Stryjek, 8/10: Should've commanded his area with more authority for Newcastle's opener and his indecision nearly cost his team with Robson sparing the Pole's blushes. However, he did save THAT penalty. All is forgiven. He even scored in the shootout himself.
Josh Robson, 9/10: Immense all night. Saved his team's bacon with a ridiculous goal saving tackle and generally looked confident and assured all night.
Denver Hume, 6/10: Looked assured enough, didn't stand out as much as his other defensive partners. Takes a nice penalty.
Elliot Embleton, 5/10: Had a solid but unspectacular game.
Brandon Taylor, 6/10: Didn't do much wrong, other than being poleaxed for Newcastle's opener, and was unlucky to have his game cut short with an injury. Looked comfortable enough on the ball, though.
Brendan Galloway, 6/10: Decent in patches but needlessly gave away the free kick for Roberts' equaliser.
Luke Molyneux, 7/10: Worked extremely hard.
Jake Hackett, 6/10: Played his role well, looked to get the ball out wide and helped to link attack and defence but missed the crucial penalty.
Connor Shields, 7/10: Solid performance by the Scot, worked hard and provided the assist to put his side ahead.
Lynden Gooch, 9/10: Won and scored a penalty to level the game, his movement and intelligence look a cut above at this level. Deserved the standing ovation and should be in the first team squad, for me.
Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka, 8/10: A handful for Newcastle all night, could become the next Josh Maja or Joel Asoro.
(SUB) Alex Storey, 5/10: Scored his penalty and didn't do too much otherwise.
(SUB) Jack Diamond, 5/10: Unfortunately didn't manage to show the game winning potential we all know he possesses.
(SUB) Owen Gamble, 6/10: Exhibited a few nice touches and looked tidy in possession.
Man of the Match: Josh Robson - Worked hard all night, defended solidly and saved Sunderland with multiple last ditch tackles.