SUNDERLAND boss Lee Johnson was thrilled with the maturity of his young players after the kids got their Papa John’s Trophy defence off to a flyer with a 2-1 win over Lincoln City.

The game sprang to life after two minutes when 19-year-old Dan Neil, on a night where he was wearing the captains armband, hit a 25 yard rocket into the top corner and added to his brilliant series of performances this season.

Stephen Wearne came off the bench to bundle the ball home from close range in the second half to all but ensure the victory for the Black Cats.

Lewis Montsma replied from distance with a long range fizzing effort in stoppage time but it wasn’t going to be enough for Lincoln to get back into the game as his kids ran down the remaining minutes.

Johnson said: “I was really happy. The big-picture thing for me is how well the young players did out there. The attitude from the seniors was good, which was important, but which enabled the youngsters to really come through.

“What I liked was the way we played and the philosophy we played with. It shows people are doing their jobs and the coaching is really good in the academy.

“I thought Dan Neil was top, top drawer. It's an art form the way he moves around the pitch and I'm so happy to be working with him and to be able to continue watching his development.

“It's a huge trip for the club as far as I'm concerned. It proves to me that the work behind the scenes is going really well.

“We talk a lot about wanting to be sustainable and to do that you've got to bring players through. At the moment we are doing that in abundance.

“Particularly given the fact that Lincoln picked a strong side, it was not like for like in terms of league performances, I'm really happy.

“I'm really grateful for the travelling fans as well because they made an atmosphere for our lads."

“It would have been disappointing if we hadn't had many but to be able to see and hear them so strongly was really nice.”