Michael Appleton's Sunderland claim as Black Cats get better of his side in EFL Trophy
Michael Appleton felt his fringe players failed to seize their chance in Lincoln's EFL Trophy defeat against Sunderland.
The Black Cats ran out 2-1 winners in their Northern Group F game at Sincil Bank, with skipper Dan Neil putting them ahead after only 90 seconds before Stephen Wearne scored the second 20 minutes from time after making his senior debut from the bench.
Lincoln pulled a goal back in injury-time through Lewis Montsma, but it came too late for the hosts.
Lee Johnson made ten changes for the game, with his starting XI containing three debutants along with several other youngsters, and he was delighted with their response.
Appleton also made a raft of changes but he was left disappointed at his side's performance.
"The performance of some of the players was good, just not enough of them," he told LincolnshireLive.
"The disappointment of the first goal got the better of four or five of them early doors. We took too long to get over it.
"In the second half, it became a bit like an U23 game, which was the last thing we wanted.
"The likes of Jamie [Robson], Lewis [Montsma], Sam [Long], they can be proud of the way they played.
"Seeing Joe Walsh get 45 minutes and Chris Maguire get 65 minutes was really pleasing, looking forward to what's ahead of us.
"But beyond that, there aren't many of them who can take too much out of tonight.
"I felt it was an opportunity for some of the players to stake a claim, make me think and ask questions of me. I just didn't get it.
"They've watched games recently and seen how depleted we've been at times. Tonight was an opportunity to show they wanted to be part of the Charlton game [a week on Saturday], and the games after that.
"For me, there weren't enough of them who did that."
Lincoln remain top of Group F with six points from their three fixtures, having completed their programme.
Sunderland have three points after one game, and they face second-placed Manchester United U21s at the Stadium of Light next Wednesday, before rounding off their programme with a home game against Bradford City on November 9.