TRANMERE Rovers suffered a 5-0 defeat to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night.

Three years after beating Solihull Moors 3-0 away in the Vanarama National League, Rovers went head-to-head against a club who were playing Premier League football two calendar years ago.

First-half strikes from Duncan Watmore, Chris Maguire and Lynden Gooch saw Rovers three down at the break.

Will Grigg tapped in from close-range to add a fourth for Sunderland in the closing seven minutes before Luke O'Nien headed in a free-kick unmarked in the six-yard box during stoppage time.

Sunderland went close inside two minutes when forward Grigg flicked a right-footed effort from Maguire's left-sided cross, which rebounded off Scott Davies' right-post.

George Dobson and Maguire also threatened for Phil Parkinson's hosts early on, as the Black Cats pushed for an opener.

Rovers would enjoy a positive spell and they went close when Kieron Morris forced goalkeeper Lee Burge to parry his low left-footed shot from outside the box, before Stefan Payne’s follow up was blocked.

But two goals in two minutes midway through the half saw Sunderland take command.

Grigg fed midfielder Watmore with a neat through ball to the unmarked Watmore, who from inside the penalty area, drove low right-footed across goal and into the bottom left-corner beyond Davie after 24 minutes played.

Mellon’s men were 2-0 down with 26 minutes gone, when Maguire bent a right-footed free-kick from the edge of the box over the wall that found the bottom right-corner following George Ray’s foul.

Sunderland added their third on 38 minutes when Watmore turned provider after getting in behind down the right, to square across to American international Gooch tapped in from six-yards.

Gooch thought he had his second of the night, heading into an empty net, but he was flagged up for offside late in the half following a mix-up from Ray and Davies.

Rovers began positively after the interval as they were backed by the phenomenal support of 851 of the SWA who had made the journey up to the North East for the midweek clash.

Centre-back Manny Monthe glanced wide from Morris’ corner seven minutes following the restart.

Shortly later, Payne’s powerful header from Liam Ridehalgh’s cross from the left hit the post before the ball rolled along the line and was cleared to safety.

Mullin was next to try his luck for the visitors from the Wirral, but his fierce attempt from the left edge of the area was straight into the grasp of Burge.

Rovers were on the attack once again in the closing quarter-of-an-hour of the contest when Davies’ long punt upfield released substitute Hepburn-Murphy, who played in Jennings, only for his right-footed strike to get charged down.

It was 4-0 after 83 minutes on the clock, with Grigg's right-footed shot from a matter of yards beating Davies.

O'Nien headed Sunderland's fifth in added time, glancing beyond Davies and into the bottom left-corner from Maguire’s free-kick.

Manager Micky Mellon gave an honest assessment after Tuesday night’s defeat at former Premier League side Sunderland.

Mellon said: "As a manager, I take responsibility for performances, so I take responsibility for the way we defended when we're on the training ground all the time.

"We got ourselves into areas to enable ourselves to defend in one vs one situations and we just weren't able to do it, so we’ll go back onto the grass on Thursday and keep working on it and keep trying to improve.

"We had a few chances to take the lead in the first 15 minutes, I think that would be fair to say that, but the goals that we gave away, playing at this level and at a massive club like Sunderland, we have to get better and we have to improve.

"It was unbelievable support that we had again and we have to represent that better than what we did, so we just have to comb over and go over all the individual moments and see where we need to improve and it’s my responsibility to make sure people are improving in order to compete."