IT was a night that showed the kids are alright at Sunderland but one kid in particular, Dan Neil, is a bit better than alright as his starring role and captain’s performance helped his side to a 2-0 win over Lincoln City in the Papa Johns Trophy.

Neil is a young man who is living the dream as a Sunderland boy. After his strong start to the season, he was handed the armband for the game at Sincil Bank.

It took just two minutes for him to stand out from the rest of the crowd handing Sunderland the initiative with a moment of brilliance.

The move started through the 19-year-old in the centre circle. After stroking the ball to the left hand side finding Aiden O’Brien, the winger then returned the ball back to Neil 25 yards out. One touch out of his feet and a sweet strike into the top right hand corner and the Black Cats found themselves ahead thanks to an outstanding goal from the midfielder.

While the game quickly died down after the early excitement, Lincoln were beginning to find some rhythm with Hakeeb Adelakun being their main source of efforts in the first 20 minutes. He was twice blocked by Ollie Younger in the box who manfully stood up to the task of keeping Lincoln out.

There was a definite sense that a goal could come from either side at any time as both teams tested the waters on a number of players. The game was open and there was some good passing play from both sides demonstrating similar styles of expansive passing play.

The Imps began to grow into the game and they were preying on Sunderland’s youthful ignorance. The away side had Lee Burge to thank who dove to his right to deny Remy Longdon’s curling effort inside the box before palming out former Sunderland forward Chris Maguire’s stinging effort with an acrobatic save. Maguire spent three years on Wearside scoring 22 league goals in 101 appearances and could well have been in the mood to prove a point.

Neil and Alex Pritchard continued to pull the strings in midfield but it was O’Brien who came mightily close to doubling their lead just before half time. He cut inside from the left onto his favoured right foot and bent a beautiful curling effort that smacked off the outside of the post. Goalkeeper Sam Long could only stand and watch the effort and luck was on his side.

The Black Cats went in at the break ahead but in truth their was a feeling that there was more goals in this game.  

They almost came for both sides five minutes into the second half. Ellis Taylor should have done better when he was released through to the right but managed to scuff his shot in Long’s hands before Jamie Robson broke free on the left for Lincoln and let rip from distance. A deflection off Frederik Alves sent the ball over the bar.

Neil was then almost the architect of a Sunderland second when he drove through the heart of Lincoln and threaded Will Harris but Long came out to make himself big as the young striker stabbed the ball at the goalkeeper.

It became a night where the kids ruled the world (or at least Sincil Bank) when a Black Cats substitute put the game beyond the Imps.

After Sunderland’s passage was blocked through the middle, the ball was laid left for Hume to float the ball into the box. An aerial challenge between keeper Long, Harris and a Lincoln defender saw the ball squirm goalwards. The Imps desperately tried to avoid conceding a second but it was Stephen Wearne who was on hand to bundle the ball home. They all count!

The victory was pretty much wrapped up from their but Lincoln pulled one back in stoppage time.

The Imps threw bodies forward and Sunderland were doing everything in their power to keep a clean sheet but Lewis Monstma had other ideas as the centre-half fizzed a long range strike into the bottom right corner. That was the last of the action as Sunderland got the defence of their trophy off to a flyer as they await Manchester United’s Under 21’s a week today at the Stadium of Light.

Attendance: 3,060 (659)

SUNDERLAND (4-2-3-1)

Lee Burge; Kenton Richardson, Frederik Alves, Ollie Younger, Denver Hume; Dan Neil (c), Harrison Sonha; Alex Pritchard, Aiden O'Brien, Ellis Taylor (Stephen Wearne 62'); Will Harris (Luke O'Nien 75', Elliot Embleton 80')

Subs not used: Jacob Carney, Patrick Almond, Nathan Newell, Ethan Kachosa

LINCOLN (4-2-3-1)

Sam Long, Regan Poole (c), Lewis Montmsa, Max Sanders, Chris Maguire (Dan Nlundulu 70'), Anthony Scully, Hakeeb Adelakun, Joe Walsh (TJ Eyoma 45'), Remy Longdon (Cohen Bramall 70'), Lasse Sorensen, Jamie Robson

Sub not used: Matt Boylan

Man of the match: Dan Neil