Match Report: Sunderland 3-1 Carlisle United - Cats Cruise Past Spirited Cumbrians

Nigel Roddis

Sunderland produced a professional performance to continue their fine cup form this season.

Though you wouldn't always know it, there is usually a plan for the early rounds of cup football that goes something like this: Keep the lower-league opposition at arm's length until their enthusiasm drops, then wait for your Premier League quality to assert itself.

So, according to that mantra at least, you could describe this one as a job well done for Sunderland.

In truth it was a comfortable cup progression for Gus Poyet's men. That is not to say that Carlisle didn't make a game of it. Backed by a brilliant and boisterous traveling support, they most certainly had their moments with Sunderland's perpetually problematic left-hand side opened up with alarming regularity.

But, save for a short spell at the end of the first half which culminated in Matty Robson's equaliser, this was a game the home side bossed.

The breakthrough came with a touch of that extra quality the Black Cats possess. After Craig Gardner was brought down trying to manoeuvre room for his raison d'etre - a long range shot - Adam Johnson stepped up to calmly curl the weird FA Cup ball into the corner of the net.

Carlisle's response was excellent, though. They raided down their right and for a spell had their hosts on the ropes. Ondrej Celustka seemed to do his best to join Sunderland's growing band of own-goal scorers, and when Robson cracked in his goal off the bar to pandemonium in the away end of the ground, it was most certainly deserved.

The second half, however, was just about as one-sided as games come. In fact, if Northumbria Police has cordoned off the Sunderland half in a bubble after the break I doubt many would have noticed.

The go-ahead goal, coming just 5 minutes after the restart, did have a large slice of luck involved though. A first time Adam Johnson centre was cruelly (for Carlisle) deflected past his own goalkeeper by Sean O'Hanlon.

From that point on, Sunderland looked in total control without really carving out that many clear cut chances. Jozy Altidore - who missed a one-on-one in the first half - engineered a couple of half chances for himself but there wasn't much to get excited about.

That was until two youngsters form the bench were introduced, that is. Duncan Watmore was first into the fray, with clear instructions from Poyet to get himself on the touchline and stay there until a team mate gave him the ball. It didn't take long for them to cotton on to the fact that it was worth doing, with the former Altrincham youngster running at the tiring legs with that thing that happens when a footballer's legs move really fast. It's called 'pace' I think, at least it was the last time we saw hit in a Sunderland shirt all those eons ago.

Watmore should really have helped himself to a goal after being played in by Altidore, who came alive with the energy and running that was suddenly happening around him. 'Movement' or something. We'll check the actual term later in our Big Book Of Words We Never Have To Use Covering Sunderland. What? That's a real thing, man.

A third goal did come though, and this time it was the other youngster from the bench who grabbed it - El-Hadji Ba. The Frenchman had previously played in Gardner and turned in a very impressive cameo, and never really looked like missing once being presented with the chance by Altidore once again.

It wasn't perfect by any means. Andrea Dossena was still plodding around looking like his legs and body existed in mutually exclusive universes in which time moves at very different speeds, and Craig Gardner was so bad that it had me at times yearning for his wretched Chelsea League Cup performance.

But it was a professional job done and progression in second gear. That'll do.

We'll have more reaction in the coming hours and days with Player Ratings and more, HERE.

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