Sunderland are through to the second round of the Carabao Cup, after a 2-1 victory over Port Vale in the first round at Vale Park on Tuesday night.
Goals from Josh Hawkes and Aiden O’Brien had placed Sunderland into a two-goal lead, but a 67th-minute strike from Jamie Proctor made it a nervy ending for the Black Cats, but with some brilliant saves from Anthony Patterson, Sunderland are in the hat for the second round draw.
After Saturday’s league opener, focus turned onto the beginning of the Carabao Cup, with Lee Johnson making wholesale changes, giving debuts to Alex Pritchard and Ellis Taylor - the latter whom impressed in the pre-season friendly against Tranmere Rovers.
Josh Hawkes was also given a start, with Jack Diamond and Aiden O’Brien coming into the attack, as both Ross Stewart and Aiden McGeady dropped to the bench.
Callum Doyle was given a break from defensive duties, with captain for the evening Bailey Wright partnering Tom Flanagan in the centre of defence.
First Half Action
After making a number of changes, Sunderland began the cup tie on the back foot, with Port Vale controlling the opening stages at Vale Park.
Despite retaining more of the possession, the home side found it difficult to convert that into clear-cut opportunities, with Sunderland having the best chance of the opening period as Jack Diamond’s dink over the goalkeeper dropped narrowly wide of the left post.
Port Vale did look threatening on the attack, but couldn’t send their efforts past a commanding Anthony Patterson - the closest opportunity in those early stages coming as James Wilson’s left-footed effort was hit just too high and over the bar.
After beginning to slowly find their feet, a superb counter-attacking move from Sunderland ended up with the opening goal just before the half-time interval.
Alex Pritchard carried the ball forward brilliantly before sliding it through to Josh Hawkes, whose effort was drilled past the Port Vale goalkeeper.
Half Time - Port Vale 0-1 Sunderland AFC
Second Half Action
Sunderland continued just where they left off at the end of the first half, as within less than five minutes, they doubled their advantage from the penalty spot.
An incisive ball through the centre of the Port Vale defence from Dan Neil picked out Jack Diamond, who was brought down inside the box by the keeper, and Aiden O’Brien calmly disposed of the spot-kick.
Port Vale almost found their route back into the cup tie, almost immediately, as Worrall’s free-kick was nodded narrowly wide of the right post by Nathan Smith.
From Port Vale almost halving the lead, Sunderland almost put the game to bed, as Josh Hawkes’ first-time curling effort was fizzed narrowly wide of the post.
A double substitution from both sides brought freshness onto the Vale Park turf, and only two minutes later, Port Vale found their way back into the game, as the lead was cut to only one.
It came in scrappy circumstances as a through ball beautifully found Worrall, whose square pass was met by the boot of Jamie Proctor, and eventually it dropped over the line.
The five minute break due to the loss of one of the floodlights would have aided the Black Cats recovery, after a bombardment of Port Vale pressure after their first goal.
The introduction of Callum Doyle brought freshness into the Sunderland backline as the home side began to pile more pressure on, with Tom Pett’s cheeky lob tipped over the bar by Anthony Patterson.
David Worrall almost turned from creator to scorer as the ball dropped kindly for the Port Vale man, but his effort was beaten away by Patterson.
Another chance fell the way of the home side in the latter stages of the contest, as a corner eventually fell for Jamie Proctor, whose header was dramatically tipped over by young goalkeeper Anthony Patterson, with Sunderland holding on.
Full Time - Port Vale 1-2 Sunderland AFC