Sunderland vs Colchester United
Stadium of Light
Scrappy, lifeless, worrying? Although Sunderland beat Colchester United 2-0 you can't help think that the performance was not of the highest quality.
Even though Both goals came from striker Darren Bent courtesy of goalkeeper Mark Cousins howlers, fans must have been thinking "why couldn`t we really test them?"
With just over 13,000 fans travelling to the Stadium of Light to witness a poor game, a hint of agitation could be sensed amongst the home fans.
Some will say a win is a win, the rest will have apprehensive towards Sundays game against Manchester City, either way improvements and changed must be made.
But however, there was at least one positive to take away from the game, Simon Mignolet showing snippets of potential, making several key yet brilliant saves during the game.
Manager Steve Bruce guaranteed a strong and experienced starting 11 for the game and he was true to his word.
Titus Bramble and Mignolet where the familiar faces to start, while Lee Cattermole, Michael Turner and Anton Ferdinand were recalled with Danny Welbeck making his first start for the Black Cats.
With Sunderland, the opening moments of a game tend to be the strongest they play, testing the defence and keeper, making impressive runs and passes, however with the tweaks that Bruce made the home fans had to wait 20 minutes for a break through.
Club captain Bolo Zenden chipping in a hopefull ball only for keeper Cousins to come racing out and compeltly missing the collection, leaving Bent clip a looping header over the stranded shot-stopper after 19 minutes.
Sunderland would take it as something out of nothing as the midfield seemed monotonous and lacked fluency.
But eight minutes from the break, Cousin`s night only got worse and Colchester found themselves 2-0 down, when Zenden`s free-kick found the palms of the U`s keeper but the ball slipped and fell to the floor and in front of Bent, who was left to tap it in from 4-yards.
But before Sunderland could relax, U`s Anthony Wordsworth tested Mignolet with a close range header, but the Belgian was equal to it, managing to turn the ball on to edge of the bar and out for a corner.
In the second half it didn`t seem to get any better for the Black Cats side, the main problem being forming any sort of a attack or really testing the travelling sides defence, instead it was the other way round.
Again Wordsworth delivering a dangerous and Mignolet cleverly collecting the ball and Colchester beginning to enjoy long periods of possession.
Mignolet would be busy again, blocking goal-bound attempts from an energetic David Perkins.
But with time getting on, Sunderland looked less and less likely to add to the score line, but the introduction of local lad Martyn Waghorn almost changed that when his vicious 25-yard shot crashed off the bar and out for a goal kick.
He then clipped and effort over the bar at the end of injury time after neat work from substitute Jack Colback and Frazier Campbell.
Steve Bruce was positive about the result and praised Bent, who was expected to be rested for tonight`s game.
He said, "The main thing was we got through, we had a few players who needed a run out - Michael Turner in particular - and we're through to the next round.
'It was never going to be easy against Colchester, who are a big, strong, powerful team. Fair play to them, they enjoyed their night and made it difficult for us.
'They were terrific. They worked extremely hard, caused us a few problems and we wish them well."
Speaking about Darren Bent, he said, 'I threw in Darren Bent and he rewarded us with two goals.
"He got some extra time off after being away with England before the World Cup and has been playing catch-up.
'His sharpness is coming back as you could see tonight and he enjoys scoring goals.'