A LOT has happened at Sunderland in the last 64 years, but up until last night, no side sporting the red-and-white stripes had managed to score eight goals in a competitive fixture.

Admittedly, previous Sunderland teams haven’t been able to play in a competition as contrived and uncompetitive as the EFL Trophy, but even so, emulating the 8-1 scoreline that was last recorded against Charlton in the 1956-57 season is no mean feat. If nothing else, last night’s massacre should ensure confidence is not in short supply when the League One action begins against Bristol Rovers this weekend.

Phil Parkinson’s side ran riot against an Aston Villa Under-21s side that will no doubt be cursing the EFL’s decision to admit academy teams into one of their supposedly flagship competitions. Two goals to the good at the interval, the Black Cats were only 3-1 ahead when the game entered its final half-hour.

However, chaos ensued from that point onwards with Josh Scowen, Max Power, Danny Graham, George Dobson and Aiden O’Brien all finding the net in a manic 15-minute spell. Graham’s goal, which came within eight minutes of him leaving the substitutes’ bench, was especially notable, representing an ideal start to a second spell on Wearside that only began when he re-signed on Monday night. In the whole of his first spell, the striker only managed one goal from 42 matches.

It was a dream night for Parkinson, who was able to watch his youngsters impress at the same time as a number of his senior players gained some much-needed match time.

Last night’s starting line-up featured four players aged 21 or under, and all four are likely to find themselves in and around the senior set-up for the remainder of the season.

Dan Neil played in a free role behind Wyke and linked neatly with Sunderland’s lone striker. Diamond was asked to fill a somewhat unfamiliar role as a right wing-back, and while his positioning was awry on occasion, his comfort in possession was clear to see.

The two youngsters in Sunderland’s defence also had good nights, with 21-year-olds Morgan Feeney and Brandon Taylor combining with debutant Arbenit Xhemajli to form a solid back three. Taylor, whose only mistake all night was the foul that resulted in the concession of a second-half penalty, is a product of the Black Cats’ youth system, while Feeney was signed this summer following his release from Everton, and while they will clearly face much tougher tests as they develop through their senior careers, their poise and assurance both on and off the ball augurs well.

Feeney was especially impressive, readily assuming the leadership responsibilities that go with playing in the middle of three centre-halves, and his accomplished performance was embellished with a first-half goal.

Sunderland were the better side in open play all night, but it was at set-pieces where their superiority was especially marked, and their opening two goals both came from corners.

Scowen delivered them both, with Wyke the first to profit. Having been forced to watch most of Saturday’s Carabao Cup defeat to Hull from the bench as Parkinson opted for Will Grigg, Wyke made his mark in typically forceful fashion last night, easing ahead of his marker to glance home a front-post header. Seven minutes later, and Sunderland were doubling their lead, with Feeney heading home after finding himself in space from another set-piece.

Lynden Gooch should have made it three shortly before the interval, dragging a low shot wide, with Villa’s youngsters unable to match Sunderland’s pace, power and precision. They briefly threatened a revival at the start of the second half, with Vassilev converting from the spot after Taylor mistimed his challenge and brought down Carney Chukwuemeka, but it took Sunderland just three minutes to reassert their authority and restore their two-goal lead.

Again, Scowen’s set-piece delivery was key, with the midfielder picking out Feeney at the back post. He nodded the ball back across goal, and Wyke was left with the simple task of glancing home his second from close to the goalline.

He made way midway through the second half, enabling Graham to come on for the first appearance of his second spell, but by that stage, the game was effectively over as a contest. The scoring, though, had barely just started.

Graham set up his side’s fourth goal, nodding down Gooch’s cross for Scowen to stab home, and also had a hand in Sunderland’s fifth, rolling into the path of Power, who hammered home from 25 yards.

The striker only managed one goal in the whole of his first spell, but he only had to wait eight minutes to equal that tally after coming off the bench last night. O’Brien cut the ball back from close to the byline, and Graham swept home neatly.

It was seven moments later, with Dobson hammering home, and O’Brien completed the scoring in stoppage time.