More than 16,500 fans were at the Stadium of Light last night to watch Sunderland defeat North-East rivals in the Checkatrade Trophy.
A professional performance from Sunderland against North East rivals Newcastle United U21’s saw the Black Cats progress to the Quarter-Finals of the Checkatrade Trophy with a 4-0 win.
The game was played in front of more than 16,500 fans at the Stadium of Light, which is the highest crowd for an EFL Trophy Round Three match since Leeds United played Bury in 2008, where almost 19,000 fans were in attendance.
A professional performance saw the League One side advance to the quarter-finals with Wembley firmly in their sights.
“Tonight was a professional performance from our boys, they carried a lot of pressure on their shoulders. The atmosphere certainly gave me a taste of what the derbies must be like,” manager Jack Ross said in his post-match press conference.
“Being involved in a tournament like this, being the club we are and where we are in the league, there’s always going to be pressure on us to get to Wembley.
“We’ve taken the competition seriously and now we’re not far away from Wembley. That’s something that would provide a huge positive for the club and the fans given the last couple of years.”
The Checkatrade Trophy continues to provide young players competitive playing opportunities and last night was certainly a true test of Newcastle United U21’s mentality, as defeat on the night had genuine consequences.
Under-21 striker Elias Sorensen spoke live on Sky Sports before the game of his excitement of playing in such a game:
“This will be the biggest crowd we’ve ever played in front of, at the Stadium of Light, against our biggest rivals – we’re all really excited,” he said.
Academy Manager Ben Dawson also admitted in his post-match press conference that his players had not experienced an atmosphere or a test like that before and will only benefit from the occasion in the long run.
“Tonight was a terrific experience for my young players – to play in a match like this in front of that crowd is something they’ve never done before.
“We more than matched Sunderland in the first-half but key moments made the difference and that’s where you see the difference between us and first teams.
"My players will learn from tonight that the finer details make the difference in big games and they’ll learn from it – that’s definitely one thing this competition has brought,” Dawson said.
Round Three Results are as follows:
Rochdale 2-4 Manchester City U21
Accrington Stanley 2-4 Bury
Cheltenham Town 1-1 Oxford United
*Oxford United win on penalties
Northampton Town 1-2 Bristol Rovers
Port Vale 1-1 Shrewsbury Town
*Port Vale win on penalties
Southend United 0-2 Portsmouth
Sunderland 4-0 Newcastle United U21
Chelsea U21 v Peterborough United (to be played Wednesday 9 January)
The draw for the Quarter-Finals of the Checkatrade Trophy will take place live on Sky Sports’ EFL Matters show on Thursday 10 January, 7pm.