Sunderland advanced to the next stage of the weird energy drink trophy with a 2-1 victory over Carlisle. Goals from Donald Love and Lyndon Gooch saw off the Cumbrians, who levelled in the second half after Djilobodji conceded a penalty. Is it a cup run yet?
Several changes were made to the side that lost 2-0 to Leeds at home, which is to be expected given the prestige (or lack thereof) of the competition and the fixture congestion.
Oviedo returned to the side from injury while Papy Djilobodji, Donald Love, and Lynden Gooch were handed starts. Joel Asoro was also given the nod, which may prove to be a good decision against a presumably weak Carlisle side. Robbin Ruiter made his debut in place of Jay Steele.
Oviedo, Djilobodji, O’Shea, Matthews
Khazri, Love, NDong, Gibson, Gooch
With Carlisle tonight, Sunderland will have played 5 games in just over two weeks, and the fatigue certainly showed against Leeds at the weekend. While we weren’t particularly bad, we lacked a cutting edge and couldn’t penetrate as a result of that. Part of that is due to a lack of talent, but a lot of it is surely down to fatigue.
While I had us down for a 4-5-1, we actually appeared to line up closer to a 5-3-2 with Matthews playing in central defence and Love out wide — Asoro and Gooch led the line up front.
Sunderland started the game with a succession of good chances. Khazri blasted a shot against the side netting after playing a one-two with Joel Asoro. Khazri was looking tricky and a flashy bit of skill allowed him to tee up NDong for a shot that was deflected wide for a corner. The resultant corner nearly saw Asoro convert, his first effort was blocked while his second sailed wide.
Carlisle responded with several chances of their own. A floated ball towards the far post was only just out of reach for Carlisle’s Lambe. After Matthews lost the ball and the Cumbrians broke, Ruiter pulled off a great stop to deny Adams the opening goal.
Ruiter made another magnificent save shortly after, this time denying a thunderous shot from Devitt. The vocal critics of Jay Steele who suggested replacing him with Ruiter will probably feel a certain vindication in how well he looked during the first half.
Donald Love opened the scoring with a close-range tap-in. Lynden Gooch was the one who did the grafting, beating his man and sending a low cross across the goal. Love was in the right place at the right time, but that’s not taking anything away from the lad, who I’m delighted to see scoring after making a horrible start to his Sunderland career this time last year. 1-0.
Asoro found himself one-on-one with the keeper but couldn’t tuck the ball away, Bonham blocking the shot with his right foot. The Cumbrians struck the post after Lambe again found himself on the end of a cross. How we are allowing teams to put so many crosses into the box is a mystery, particularly sides from a lower league than ourselves.
We went in at half-time looking a little vulnerable, but thankfully still on top. This is a group of players who will almost certainly find themselves the second string this campaign, with a few of them possibly off out on loan before the window closes.
Typically, our hard work was undone 10 minutes into the second half when the world’s most-accomplished illusionist, Papy Djilobodji, gave away a penalty after making a clumsy challenge in the box. Ruiter did manage to guess the right way and saved the initial penalty, but the follow-up was converted without issue to make it 1-1.
The goalscorer Love and Asoro went off for Kone and Vaughan, and Carlisle again went close with a beautiful strike. Luckily, O’Shea reacted quickly and got his body in front of it. While the defence looked a world more stable with Kone in there, it must be said that Djilobodji and Adam Matthews are way off the standard required to get out of the Championship, which is discouraging considering we paid £8 million for one of those just last summer.
McGeady’s introduction certainly changed the way we were moving the ball around. Aiden is such an influential player and doesn’t shy away from taking his man on. His delivery has been suspect at times, particularly as he fatigues in matches, but he is without a doubt our biggest outlet for chance creation.
Sunderland finally restored their lead after a long-range effort from Lyndon Gooch nestled satisfyingly in the bottom corner of the goal. The American had put in an industrious performance and was rewarded with a goal for his troubles when we really needed it. 2-1.
We nearly sealed the victory with a stunning acrobatic effort from James Vaughan, but sadly his attempted overhead kick yielded the same results as the move has throughout pre-season and through August — no dice.
Sunderland saw out the five minutes of added time and advanced to the next stage of the energy drink trophy, the draw for which will take place on the planet Neptune after the first snowfall of winter. Hopefully it’s another away tie to a lower league club!
Final Score: Carlisle 1-2 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Lyndon Gooch the match winner
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