THERE will be no mid-season trip to Wembley for Sunderland to worry about. An early exit in the Trophy has piled on the misery as Phil Parkinson’s frustrating start to life on Wearside continued.

A number of the Black Cats’ angry travelling fans were left to direct ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ as the final whistle approached after League Two strugglers Scunthorpe United capitalised on another abject display.

Despite a decision to field a line-up boasting plenty of first-team experience, Parkinson cut a dejected figure as Scunthorpe progressed to the knock-out stages. The manner of the late collapse was concerning.

Sunderland they had to win in 90 minutes to finish ahead of the Iron and leave the group stage behind in a competition they reached the final in last March.

But after Scunthorpe’s Lee Novak hit the opener from the penalty spot in the 66th minute - after Luke O’Nien was sent off - Mo Eisa and Novak embarrassed the visitors with two further goals in the closing stages.

It was the fourth defeat from Parkinson’s early time in charge, double the amount endured by Jack Ross before he was sacked in early October, and this by a side who are battling to stay in the Football League.

Even being able to suggest Sunderland can focus on closing the eight-point gap they need to make up on League One’s top two doesn't seem appropriate.

Given the extra fixtures this Trophy brought with it last season and the knock-on contribution many felt those dates had on an unsuccessful promotion bid, Parkinson clearly had other ideas judging by his team selection.

Even though there were five changes to the side that were woefully held to a replay with Gillingham in the FA Cup on Saturday, he named a starting line-up to suggest he meant business. Denver Hume, Duncan Watmore, Grant Leadbitter and Marc McNulty were all recalled.

There was also a return between the posts for Lee Burge, whose thigh strain was tested for the first time despite the decision to postpone this weekend’s trip to Bristol Rovers because of international call-ups and a lack of goalkeeper options.

Burge shook off any early concerns by dealing with the ball at his feet and there was little else for him to do with until the dying moments of the opening period. Sunderland had plenty of possession initially, with Leadbitter and George Dobson in control, but they never threatened.

There were strong shouts for a penalty waved away early on when O’Nien appeared to knock the ball forward before being brought down by Junior Brown.

Watmore lifted an effort over an empty goal when the loose ball dropped to him following Eastwood’s decision to rush out and try to prevent McNulty from collecting a quickly taken free-kick.

Scunthorpe fashioned a well worked opening midway through the opening period which ended with Matthew Lund curling just over the bar from the edge of the area, having opened Sunderland up with some sweet passes.

As half-time approached, Scunthorpe were left wondering how they were not ahead. After former Newcastle winger Alex Gillead’s shot forced a corner, O’Nien headed Matthew Lund’s goalbound header off the line. It was not pretty.

Sunderland, who brought on Laurens de Bock for Joel Lynch for the second half after injury, were threatened by the trickery of winger Eisa down O’Nien’s side.

Max Power’s lovely pass in behind the defence was brought down by McNulty and the striker’s second touch was an effort that needed to be saved by Eastwood, and that sparked an open last half hour.

Watmore went close a couple of times and Sunderland enjoyed their best spell before Eisa was sent clear with 24 minutes remaining by Lund’s clever pass, and O’Nien brought him down as the last defender.

Novak made no mistake from the resulting spot-kick and referee Darren Handley showed no hesitation in producing the instant red card – and he could easily have brandished a second when he cautioned Power for a lunge on Eisa soon after.

There was still time for Eisa and Novak to score two more – as well as another. When Kevin van Veen sent over a corner, Rory McArdle’s effort was blocked and Eisa turned and finished low beyond Burge with two minutes remaining.

To pile on the misery, former Gateshead striker and Newcastle United fan Novak rose to head in a third in stoppage-time – cue the angry chants from the travelling fans.