Stanley suffered defeat against League One promotion-hopefuls Sunderland to leave them two points above the relegation zone.

The Reds were 2-0 down at the end of the first half after Aiden McGeady scored a sublime goal from range after just four minutes.

Will Grigg scored the second deep into first-half added time, chasing down a long ball over the top and finishing under goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov.

Stanley looked the more likely to score for large parts of the second half, but it was Kazaiah Sterling who made it 3-0 with 11 minutes to go, converting Lewis Morgan’s low cross to ensure Stanley were beaten.

Manager John Coleman made two changes to the side that suffered defeat against Fleetwood Town, with Harvey Rodgers and Luke Armstrong making way for Callum Johnson and Ben Richards-Everton.

Both sides looked to start the game brightly, but Sunderland, having been beaten by Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy final at the weekend, showed no signs of a Wembley hangover and went ahead after just four minutes.

Attacking in numbers, Stanley were forced onto the defensive before McGeady cut inside from the left and fired the visitors in front with a rising effort from 25-yards.

The visitors could have been 2-0 up barely a minute later were it not for Ross Sykes who cleared away a Will Grigg effort from off the line, as the visitors continued to press.

Stanley had to defend for most of the opening exchanges, Evtimov saving a low shot from Max Power after a clever one-two played him into the area in the 12th minute.

The Reds failed to test Jon McLaughlin in the Sunderland goal during the first period, Billy Kee volleying over the bar with five minutes of the half remaining.

Stanley continued to press but the visiting defence did well to shut down any attack.

Grigg extended the Black Cats’ lead deep in added time, breaking through the home defence to get onto a ball over the top and increase the visitor’s lead.

Coleman made two changes at half-time with Erico Sousa and Dan Barlaser coming on, and Stanley looked more threatening in the second half.

Sousa looked lively with his pace, and fired a powerful low effort that was blocked, before Paul Smyth fired into the side-netting in the 48th minute.

Barlaser and Kee tested McLaughlin from distance as the Reds fought for a way back into the contest.

Sousa continued to look dangerous, firing just wide of the right post with the outside of his foot after winning the ball and sprinting into the box.

Sunderland grew back into the second half during the final stages, and substitutes Morgan and Sterling combined to extend the visitor’s lead in the 79th minute.

The Reds pushed as the game drew to a close, but could not find a way through as Stanley were condemned to defeat.