Sunderland produced another Premier League upset in this season’s Carabao Cup as Sheffield United were the latest team to be knocked out of the competition by the Black Cats.
Burnley were knocked out in the second round and Sheffield United were kicked out of the Carabao Cup in the third round after losing to a Max Power thunderbolt in the ninth minute of the match.
Chris Wilder’s side applied pressure after pressure, but the Black Cats managed to hold out and defend their lead and they came victorious.
Only three players kept their places from Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Bolton Wanderers, with Tom Flanagan captaining the side, Luke O’Nien playing in a more attacking role and Chris Maguire starting up top with Charlie Wyke.
New boys Joel Lynch and Laurens de Bock both started their first game in the red and white stripes of the Black Cats, while Lee Burge began the match in between the sticks.
First Half Action
Sheffield United started the stronger of the both sides and Callum Robinson made Lee Burge produce a one-handed save to his left to deny the Sheffield United striker.
Despite having much of the early pressure it was the League One side that took the lead, in an emphatic way. O’Nien flicked the ball to Power, who let it run onto his right foot and he thundered the ball into the top left corner from around 25 yards out.
United responded well when Callum Robinson placed the ball across goal and Lys Mousset - who scored the Blades’ second against Everton on Saturday - couldn’t produce contact with the ball and tapped it past Lee Burge in the Sunderland goal.
As half time approached, Sheffield United were becoming increasingly frustrated as they looked for an equaliser, but Sunderland were holding their shape and Lee Burge was meeting anything that was fired at him.
Just before half time, Elliot Embleton pulled up with a hamstring injury, so looked like he would be removed from the game at the break.
Second Half Action
At half time, Elliot Embleton was taken off as a precaution, with Denver Hume replacing him.
After the break Sunderland arguably came out of the blocks quicker than their opponents and it probably should have been two-nil when Hume played a low cross into the penalty area to O’Nien, who dragged the ball back and his shot shaved the outside of the left post.
With 52 minutes on the clock, Chris Wilder decided to freshen up his front-line with Leon Clarke and Oli McBurnie replacing Callum Robinson and Lys Mousset, as Sheffield United showed their intention to try and change the game to progress to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.
After Sheffield United made their final change - Fleck for Bryan, they began to pile on the pressure on the Black Cats as the home fans were getting more and more anxious.
Sheffield United were becoming desperate for an equaliser and Osborn had a chance when he fired from long distance, but it was saved by Lee Burge.
As the clock ticked past the 90 minute mark, the fourth official lifted the board, with it showing three additional minutes for Sunderland to hold out for a place in the fourth round.
Sunderland began to make their final substitutions to slow down the match with Chris Maguire - who not long before picked up a yellow card for time-wasting - coming off with George Dobson replacing him.
When the referee blew the full time whistle, the match ended Sheffield United 0-1 Sunderland AFC.
Another Premier League cup upset, but could we have done without it?
We now face a match against Oxford United - who caused an upset against West Ham United - at the Kassam Stadium on the week commencing the 28th October, in between an away match against Shrewsbury Town and a home match against Southend United.
The team stuck in and in my opinion received their reward for producing a brilliant defensive performance, and claiming our first clean sheet of the season. Although it was Lee Burge in goal I hope that somehow it gives Jon McLaughlin more confidence, so hopefully he is able to produce his first clean sheet of the season in the coming games.
Despite being a distraction from the league, the Carabao Cup this season has been a more positive competition than I expected. From the first round against Accrington, where after two one-one draws against Oxford and Ipswich, our results turned from there and we went on a winning run, which included a second round win at Turf Moor. Now, I am hoping that Wednesday’s victory over Sheffield United will spring some momentum and we can push on and go on another winning run.
This match against Sheffield United was a complete opposite to Saturday’s away game at Bolton, and we showed grit and determination to produce a second successive cup upset.
On Saturday, we face an arguably bigger game in League One, when we face MK Dons at the Stadium of Light. The visitors lost two-nil against Liverpool on Wednesday night in the Carabao Cup, but provided a weakened-Liverpool side a threat and had big chances, but couldn’t convert.
After this match some pressure will be released from Jack Ross, but a win on Saturday will release even more, and everyone hopes that we are able to carry on the momentum from Wednesday’s cup victory.