Sunderland begin their Carabao Cup journey tonight away from home against our League One rivals Accrington Stanley.
The lads were knocked out in the first round last year following a 1-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light against Sheffield Wednesday. The last time Jack Ross’ side visited the Crown Ground we won 3-0, with Aiden McGeady, Will Grigg and Kaz Sterling on the score sheet.
Ahead of the match, I spoke to Accrington fan Josh Cook from the RawMilk fanzine, who gave us the lowdown on his team’s aspirations for the season and what Sunderland can expect during the match.
MC: The Carabao Cup is a competition many teams do not take seriously - are you expecting John Coleman to ring in the changes or play his strongest team?
JC: I believe he’ll play his strongest side. We’re a game behind after the postponement of Bury on Saturday so everyone should be chomping at the bit to play. We’ve added so many new faces over the summer that it remains to be seen what our best side is. I don’t think John will truly know that himself just yet.
MC: You lost your opening League One match 2-0 away at Lincoln City. Were you disappointed to lose against a newly promoted side?
JC: Not particularly. Lincoln are a big club at this level and have spent a lot of money on their team over the summer. The first match is always a bit of a feeler for us and in front of 11000 it was always going to be tough.
MC: Accrington have signed numerous players during the current transfer window, some from non-league teams - are you happy with the club’s business so far?
JC: We’ve recruited in numbers but you just never really know who will make the step up. It’s always a mixed bag and I they need to adjust soon or we could be in trouble.
MC: The club surprised many by finishing 14th last season having been promoted from League Two. What are Accrington’s aspirations for this season?
JC: The club are trying to build their status in the community and much of that rests on League 1 football bringing in money to the town. I’d take 20th place now and continue the good work off the pitch.
MC: Accrington surprised everyone by drawing 2-2 at the Stadium of Light last season. Do you think the team are capable of repeating their bravery on the pitch once again?
JC: We were coming off the back of a 7 game spell without a goal so it was a good result. We won’t mention the fact we lost a 2 goal lead in about 20 minutes though. This team is made up of some of the key characters from last year. They won’t let standards slip.
MC: A game between Accrington and Sunderland was abandoned last year at the Crown Ground - how is the pitch looking at the moment?
JC: The pitch has got a £300k investment over the summer and this will be the first match on the surface due to all of our pre season matches being away. It’s lost the slope that led up to The Clayton End so it is looking pretty damn good at the minute.
MC: Which Accrington players do you think will cause Sunderland problems during the cup tie?
JC: Our wingers are the danger men (Clarke and Mcconville) but look out for Colby Bishop up front. He scored 29 goals last season and has been signed to fill in for Billy Kee who is currently unavailable due to personal issues.
MC: Lastly, what is your honest predication of the final score?
JC: The first game on the new pitch under the lights should bolster the home crowd accordingly. 2:1 Stanley. Let’s hope for a cracker!