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Sunderland v Leeds United - FA Cup

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On This Day (4th January 2015): Van Aanholt strikes against Leeds in FA Cup!

He wasn’t exactly known for his goalscoring prowess, but a lovely strike from Patrick van Aanholt saw Sunderland ease past Leeds United in the FA Cup at the Stadium of Light.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It was a sad sign of the times that a win against a struggling Leeds United in the FA Cup was perceived as a big win for the team.

Going into the game, Sunderland had only won once at the Stadium of Light since the start of the season ensuring that the pressure was on Gus Poyet going into it.

The 2014-15 season was a rough ride as a Sunderland fan for an abundance of reasons.

As per usual, the team were struggling in the Premier League where there was a dearth of creativity in the team which left us finding it hard to score goals until the signing of Jermain Defoe.

This was also the season where Sunderland fans were introduced to Jack Rodwell whose £10 million move to Sunderland was one of the worst pieces of transfer business completed by any team anywhere in the world - unsurprisingly he went off injured in this game too!

Sunderland v Leeds United - FA Cup Third Round Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

For this FA Cup third round tie, the feeling of winning again was the most important thing. Apart from the last minute win at St James’ Park prior to Christmas, Sunderland were struggling for victories.

Poyet rang the changes for the game after their defeat to Manchester City on New Year's Day and in fairness to his side, they impressed in the first half.

Emanuele Giaccherini, Ricky Alvarez and Steven Fletcher all impressed in a front three that possessed lots of ability without lacking a cutting edge.

In the first few minutes of the game, the aforementioned trio all went close with chances with Fletcher’s especially going close after he blazed a cutback from Patrick Van Aanholt over the bar from point-blank range.

Moments later, the duo of Van Aanholt and Fletcher reversed roles. Neat build up play that included Jordi Gomez saw Fletcher play through Van Aanholt on the edge of the box where the Dutchman arrowed a shot across Silvestri in the Leeds goal and into the net.

Sunderland’s prolificacy meant Leeds always stood a chance and in the second half they had a right go.

Striker Adryan impressed throughout his appearance and was denied just after the restart by a save from the legs of Costel Pantilimon.

Leeds manager Neil Redfearn was furious after game as he believed the visitors should have had a penalty when Charlie Taylor was fouled as he burst down the left wing, but referee Mike Dean gave a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area.

It looked a penalty to me.

The referee made a decision and you have got to abide by that, but it came on the back of quite a weight of pressure when we were getting in and around their box well.

A goal at that time to make it 1-1, I think we would have gone on to win it.

Redfearn was right. Sunderland looked on the brink of another embarrassing collapse as Leeds increased the pressure but against the run of play, Fletcher almost doubled our lead as he latched onto a long Gomez ball only to stray offside and put it in the net.

Moments later, he had a shot saved by Silvestri after good strength shown by Connor Wickham.

Just as Sunderland thought they had got over the the worst of the Leeds pressure, the away side almost snatched a draw late on when their defender Liam Cooper hit the post with a header from a corner much to the relief of the home fans.

Ultimately, it was a win for Poyet who expressed his belief of getting a home win considering the lengthy period of time that had passed since their last one.

We needed to win at home. It was quite embarrassing that we had played four or five months of football and had won only once, so it was time to win, to have the feeling that we can win at home.

It was a decent performance in the first half, totally controlled. When you are in that situation, you need to put the game to bed, finish it, score two or three and make sure the second half is just a matter of controlling.

We didn’t do it and in the second half, Leeds had nothing to lose and they threw themselves forward, which of course created a little bit of nerves in the stadium.

Sunderland v Leeds United - FA Cup 2015 Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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