Writer: Michael Briggs
Date:Saturday January 8 2011
Embarrassing, woeful, awkward, there are no more adjectives that could describe how poor Sunderland were today as they were sent crashing out of the FA Cup third round at home to Nottingham County.
All due respect the away side, who sit 53 below Sunderland in the English tier, deserved their victory as they did not allow the occasion to get to them, nor did they allow the 17,582 attendees to intimidate them.
Stand in keeper Simon Mignolet was at fault for the first goal as he spilled a high cross from Craig Westcarr, but frantic protests of a foul on the Belgian were waved away after it appeared that Kieran Richardson was pushed into the keeper by Lee Hughes.
It would be Hughes that would haunt them again when he applied a neat finish from and acute angle to double the Magpies lead. A Darren Bent penalty gave the home side an insignificant lifeline but the away side done enough to push The Black Cats out of the Cup.
Manager Steve Bruce opted to change up his side from their impressive away win against Aston Villa only three days ago.
Mignolet, Paulo Da Silva, Cristian Riveros, Andy Reid, Marcos Angeleri and Jack Colback were all named in Sunderland's starting XI.
debut for Angeleri and the return of Reid and Colback made no difference to a lacklustre side and it showed as the changed line up were all to blame for conceding the first goal.
Richardson and Mignolet appeared to clash under pressure from Hughes as it looked like both players tried to clear the high ball, as both missed the ball crept into the back of the net, a nightmare start after just five minutes.
It took 28 minutes for Sunderland to have their only real chance of the half when Reid picked up a return pass from Asamoah Gyan before shooting narrowly wide of the goal protected by Stuart Nelson.
But the first half belongs to the travelling side as they bombarded the Black Cats box with penetrating crosses with Alan Judge the contestant menace.
After the break Bruce looked to his first team and brought on Jordan Henderson and Ahmad Elmohamady and for a short while it looked like it would work.
Both players combining well and played through Steed Malbranque but his sliced shot was yet another chance blown by Sunderland.
ent then had a chance to level the game out when Elmohamady`s cross found the head of the Englishman but his glancing header went agonisingly close.
County, who defeated Premier League Wigan in the FA Cup last season, appeared to have sealed their passage into the fourth round when Hughes struck in the 75th minute after his initial effort had been saved by Mignolet.
But Bent's penalty after 81 minutes ensured Ince's team had to endure a nervous finish to the contest
But County done enough to hold out for the result and deny Steve Bruce`s side from a cup run once again, for another year at least.
Bruce pulled no punches after the game, describing the performance as unacceptable and questioning his players' urgency.
Speaking to SAFC.com after the game he said, 'We got exactly what we deserved when we started the game like that,' he raged.
'We didn't show any urgency. If you're not right and not doing the basics properly against any team then you won't win.
'Only when we brought Jordan Henderson and Ahmed Elmohamady on did we show any sort of urgency and it proved to be too late.'
It's bitterly disappointing. We have to accept it and I don't want to make excuses. We were beaten fairly and squarely.
'We have to accept the consequences. I am as responsible as anyone else.
'The first hour in particular was quite simply not acceptable. Too many people played well below par.
'We didn't have any energy and we got what we deserved.'
He added: 'It was Notts County's cup final and it showed. In my opinion we didn't give them the respect they deserved and we gave two horrible goals away.
'The atmosphere is one of intense disappointment and so it should be.
'The first goal wasn't a foul and the second one summed us up, coming just as we were getting back into the game.
'Notts County should not be coming here and scoring two goals.
'A few need to look at themselves - me included.'
Date:Saturday January 8 2011
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