Ten-man Sunderland crashed out of the EFL Trophy with a shocking display away at League Two strugglers Scunthorpe.
The first half was a dull affair with both sides having some half chances, but things took a turn for the worse as the lads were reduced to ten men and conceded a penalty which Lee Novak dispatched to put the hosts ahead. Abo Eisa made sure of the three points has he fired home close range. Novak added his second injury time as he added the final nail in Sunderland’s coffin.
Sunderland named an almost full-strength side with Marc McNulty leading the line for the lads. This competition may not have been high on Phil Parkinson’s priority list, but winning matches certainly was.
It was a strange atmosphere in a competition between one team struggling at the bottom of League Two and another struggling to get into the promotion places in League one. Four minutes into the game and Sunderland were denied stonewall penalty, Luke O’Nien tripped up in the box, but the ref shook his head and waved it away – a truly baffling decision.
Duncan Watmore had Sunderland’s first chance of the game as McNulty got in behind the defence and pulled it back to Watmore who tried to lob the outrushing keeper but lifted it onto the roof of the net. Sunderland looked the better team through 20 minutes with their high pressing style, but in truth, it was a dull affair with an even flatter atmosphere.
Scunthorpe managed to carve out their first opening as the ball dropped to Lee Novak who curled his shot just wide of Lee Burge’s left-hand post. The hosts were getting closer as former Newcastle player James Perch flashed a cross/shot wide of the post – the home side had grown into the game and were matching Sunderland.
If anyone was going to break the deadlock it looked like it’d be the Iron’s who tested Lee Burge with a strong effort from Alex Gilliead. From the resulting corner, they came even closer as Perch’s header was cleared off the line by O’Nien. It was a tame first half from the Black Cats who had struggled to find any momentum, and if the lads couldn’t find that winner, it would be the end of the teams run in the competition.
Five minutes into the second half Scunthorpe came close to breaking the deadlock as Abo Eisa was denied by O’Nien who managed to get a toe onto the ball to force the winger wide of the goal and Burge pushed him out of play which was met by questions of a penalty by the home side. It was Sunderland’s time to push forward ten minutes into the second period as Max Power chipped a ball over the top to McNulty, but his first touch was poor and from a tight angle couldn’t beat Jake Eastwood.
Eisa was causing Sunderland all sorts of problems and was through on goal thanks to a slack touch from George Dobson, but for the Sunderland midfielder got back well and made it difficult as Eisa dragged his shot wide.
McGeady made a great run from the left-hand side into the box and instead of shooting, he played a poor pass to McNulty who wasn’t expecting it and couldn’t get a meaningful strike away, but Sunderland almost got lucky as Eastwood’s clearance hit of his own player and bounced over his bar as a few blushes were spared.
Eisa finally proved to be too much for O’Nien as he got behind the fullback who then brought him down in the box leaving the referee no choice but to send off O’Nien and award the penalty. Novak stepped up and sent Burge the wrong way – It was simply embarrassing.
Power had gone to right back and almost got sent off himself with an awful tackle which left assistant Steve Parkin less than happy with the makeshift full-back. Scunthorpe should have been home and dry as Burge kept Sunderland in the game with a fine save to deny Eisa from eight yards out.
The hosts made it two with minutes to spare as Eisa finally got his goal. A corner from the far side was helped on and the winger turned well to fire past Burge. The 21-year-old had been superb and was comfortably the best player on the pitch.
From another corner, Lee Novak added his second of the match as he headed the ball home to complete a truly appalling night for Sunderland.
Full Time: Scunthorpe 3-0 Sunderland
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