Sunderland unimpressive, but Bent gets the job done

By Chris Weatherspoon
stand of light

stand of light

Sunderland finally got their season up and running on Tuesday evening. But their 2-0 victory in the Carling Cup over Colchester United, courtesy of a Darren Bent brace, will have done little to allay ever increasing fears on Wearside that Steve Bruce’s side will struggle to better last season’s 13th place finish in the Premier League.

In his programme notes prior to the game, club chairman Niall Quinn offered his apologies for not being present at the game; Quinn being part of the entourage that has this week welcomed FIFA representatives to the north-east, in the hope of the 2018 World Cup being hosted in England.

In hindsight, the FA and the rest of the nation will be glad those representatives chose not to take in this match at the Stadium of Light. Indeed, the 13,532 who did turn up will perhaps wish they themselves had been elsewhere.

Whilst the result was never in doubt following Bent’s second goal of the evening, the Englishman profiting from opposing goalkeeper Mark Cousins spilling a routine cross, Sunderland were largely unimpressive.

Bruce will have been dismayed at his side’s inability to retain possession against such supposedly inferior opponents, as well the Black Cats’ frustrating tendency to resort to route one tactics on a regular basis.

Fortunately, as he so often has been since signing from Tottenham in August 2009, Bent was on hand to bail out his teammates. However, whilst it is his job to score goals, one wonders how disastrous an injury to the man who put away 24 of them last season would be to the Wearsiders.

As for the visitors, despite the defeat, manager Jon Ward will have been heartened by his side’s performance. The U’s frontman Kayode Odejayi, signed in the summer from Barnsley, was a potent threat, causing Titus Bramble particular difficulties. Ward told the BBC following the game that his side will go away from this game with “the confidence that we can play at this level.”

And so, the end of the road for Colchester, whilst Sunderland will now look for a favourable third round draw. With little more to aim for in the league than mid-table mediocrity, a good cup run could be just the tonic for Bruce’s men.

They will certainly need to improve if one is to be forthcoming.

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