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TOP TEN: FA Cup Ties (Part One)

With the lads out of the FA Cup, Rory Fallow is reminding us of happier times as he counts down the top ten Sunderland FA Cup ties, going today from ten to six. Part two will be out tomorrow morning!

I've decided to exclude finals and semi finals from this top ten because it would be a bit obvious, wouldn't it?

So, this Top Ten will celebrate the games that lead to those finals and semi finals with an eye for the obscure. Some of these are just great games, some contain some great players (on both sides) and some are in the middle of that Venn diagram. Enjoy!

10. Middlesbrough 1-2 Sunderland, 4th Round Replay, 2012

To be honest, I could have picked the game that preceded this. Sunderland earned a replay after Fraizer Campbell scored an emotional equaliser on his first game back from an awful cruciate ligament injury that had sidelined him for over a year.

The short trip down the A19 found Sunderland in good form, in the midst of a resurgence under Martin O'Neill, but it wouldn't be a straight forward evening for the lads. Jack Colback put Sunderland ahead on the stroke of half time with a sweetly struck half volley from eighteen yards out, after a fairly end to end first half. It was a game that could definitely be labled as an 'old fashioned cup tie' as the game kept up it's frantic tempo as Boro pushed on for an equaliser. On the 57th minute Curtis Main headed the ball in the direction of Lukas Jutkiewicz who had the whole goal in front of him after Michael Turner miss timed his intercepting header. Jutkiewicz fired into Simon Mignolet's bottom left and The Riverside Stadium went into raptures.

Extra time was needed to separate the sides after neither could find the decisive goal, after much huffing and puffing. A penalty shoot out was looking increasingly likely until Connor Wickham's miss control led to a poor Middlesbrough clearance, which fell right to the feet of Stephane Sessegnon. The talismanic Benin intentional found the back of the net after the ball fizzed through a crowd of Boro bodies which sent Mackem bodies flying all over the away end. That goal would prove to be enough and Sunderland marched on to defeat Arsenal in the fifth round before being undone by Everton at the Quarter Final stage.

9. Birmingham 0-2 Sunderland, Fifth Round Replay, 2004

Sunderland had managed to overcome Hartlepool in the third round and fellow Division One side Ipswich Town in the following tie, so going up against Premier League Birmingham would be a good test.

Following a humiliating relegation the previous season, this would be Sunderland's chance to prove that they'd moved on, as they pushed for promotion. St Andrews was also the venue when their fate was sealed, relegation being confirmed with a 2-0 defeat to Birmingham, so there was also the chance for The Black Cats so exorcise some demons.

Most supporters thought the 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light signalled the end of our cup dreams due to Birmingham being a solid top flight side, at the time. It's strange to think now but players such as Robbie Savage and David Dunn were ones to be worried about and Blues also had Mikael Forssell up front, who scored in the original fixture.

With very few chances to come by in the match  the game went to extra time, where Sunderland's hero of this cup run, Tommy Smith, scored a quick fire double to put Birmingham to the sword. Smith would score in all of his FA Cup appearances for The Black Cats during this run, where they were undone in the Semi Final in a 1-0 defeat to Millwall. The run to the semi finals restored some much needed pride to Sunderland though and the win over Birmingham was a major highlight.

8. Sunderland 1-1 Leeds United, 5th Round, 1967

Before Sunderland v Leeds would eventually become a famous FA Cup fixture there was an intriguing set of ties six years earlier.

Don Revie's Leeds side contained six of the star names that would later be defeated by Sunderland in 1973 with Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter, Peter Lorimer, Johnny Giles, Paul Madeley and Paul Reaney all in the starting line up. The Sunderland side wasn't bad that day either - future cups heroes Jimmy Montgomery and Bobby Kerr played along with Colin Todd, Cecil Irwin and 'Slim' Jim Baxter.

The game may not be an all time classic, but look at the names on display - look at how beautiful the packed Roker End looked in a time before advertising hoardings and shirt sponsors, where the supporters probably paid less than ten pence to stand on the terraces.

Neil Martin wrong footed Leeds goalkeeper Gary Sprake to give Sunderland the lead, before it was cancelled out by Jack Charlton eleven minutes later. The major lowlight for Sunderland would be Bobby Kerr suffering a broken leg from a Norman Hunter tackle, with Kerr actually standing up to limp off the pitch - Nails!

A second replay would eventually see Leeds victorious, but this original tie is a glorious piece of vintage 1960's football, in a great stadium featuring iconic players.

7. Manchester United 2-2 Sunderland, 3rd Round, 1996

Ah, Sunderland in the mid-nineties.

Peter Reid was now the manager and promotion to the Premier League looked inevitable. What greater test of Sunderland potential Premier League credentials could there be than a game against Alex Ferguson's Manchester United?

Micky Gray v Gary Neville, Eric Cantona v Dickie Ord and battle of the future Sunderland gaffers - Kevin Ball v Roy Keane. Oh, and Steve Bruce was there too.

United took an early lead through Nicky Butt, and many thought that would be curtains for Sunderland. They hadn't accounted for Steve Agnew and 'The Jarrow Arrow' Craig Russell though.

To put Sunderland ahead, Russell took two touches with his head to control the ball before slapping the ball into the far corner. A packed away end went crazy and a giant killing was on the cards - until the 80th minute. Eric Cantona got on the end of an exquisite Ryan Giggs cross to set up a replay at Roker Park which would eventually crush Sunderland's dreams, as United won 2-1 courtesy of a last minute winner from Andy Cole.

The cup would eventually be won by United and Sunderland achieved promotion finishing in first place - alls well that ends well.

6. Sunderland 3-0 Southampton, 3rd Round Replay, 1962

After a 2-2 draw at The Dell Sunderland welcomed Ted Bates' Saints to Roker Park just four days later.

This game may seem insignificant on the face of it but this was a Sunderland side packed with talent that would go onto finish in third place in the First Division that season. Player of the century and the greatest centre half the world has ever seen, Charlie Hurley, led a side which also contained Stan Anderson, Len Ashurst and Brian Clough.

Southampton were no push overs at the time, either. Ted Bates went on to be one of Saints most revered managers, with the club building a statue of the man outside of their new stadium, St Mary's. A sixth place finish represented how far Bates and players such as Derek Reeves - who spearheaded their attack - had came. Reeves would draw a blank in front of goal on this occasion, though, as Sunderland romped to a 3-0 victory via a brace from George Herd and one from Willy McPheat.

This date would also turn out to be Brian Clough's final FA Cup win as a player, due to his career ending injury occurring later that year. Clough would strive to win the trophy as a manager, looking to plug the gap left by him not winning the famous trophy as a player but it would be in vain. A runners up medal in 1991 with Nottingham Forest was the closest he came. This game may have been run of the mill at the time, but it feels iconic in age.

Come back tomorrow for Part Two and to vote in our poll for the number one FA Cup tie from the games Rory has selected!

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