Bent brace downs U’s
Sunderland 2 Colchester Utd 0 Darren Bent scored both goals tonight as Sunderland knocked Colchester United out of the Carling Cup.
The U’s can take a number a number of positives from the match though having given their full-strength Premier League hosts a very competitive match at the second round stage.
Colchester’s stand-in keeper Mark Cousins had a night to forget as he was at fault for both of Bent’s first half strikes.
The former Ipswich striker headed over the U’s stand in keeper from the edge of the box after 18 minutes, Cousins having needlessly raced off his line in an attempt to collect a long ball.
And the 23-year-old inexplicably let a crossed free-kick through his grasp in the 37th minute to hand Bent a simple tap in at the far post.
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Colchester were hardly outclassed by their hosts though and were in actual fact by far the bigger threat in the second period.
Home keeper Simon Mignolet pulled off some super saves when required though to leave the League One visited goalless, yet full of satisfaction with their performance.
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U’s boss John Ward had kept with pretty much the same side for an impressive opening four games to the season, but he made four changes for this match. Defenders Paul Reid (groin) and Marc Tierney (illness) were enforced absentees, while the in-form duo of Andy Bond and David Mooney were both dropped to the bench, seemingly with Friday night’s league visit of Carlisle in mind.
In their place came the quartet of John White, Pat Baldwin, Lloyd James and Kayode Odejayi, all but the latter making their first starts of the new campaign.
In contrast, Sunderland manager Steve Bruce – who has admitted that the Carling Cup is one of big priorities this season - named one of the strongest possible teams at his disposal, despite the ensuing visits of Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United to The Stadium of Light.
Following a disappointing 1-0 defeat to newly-promoted West Brom last weekend, the Black Cats welcomed back defender Michael Turner and midfielder Lee Cattermole following suspension.
Those two cost the north east club a combined total of �10m alone, while joining them was the likes of England international striker Bent and former Dutch winger international Bolo Zenden.
There may have been changes in personnel for Colchester, but they still lined up in the ambitious 4-3-3 formation which has served them so well at the start of the Ward era.
And the U’s showed they hadn’t come to simply make up the numbers early on as Ian Henderson found room on the edge of the box only to fire straight at the keeper with little over a minute on the clock.
The Premier League hosts certainly didn’t overwhelm their lower level visitors in the opening exchanges which followed, but they did show glimpses of their threat as Danny Welbeck and Bent both headed narrowly over the bar from right wing corners.
However, just as Colchester looked as though they had subdued the home crowd, the hosts took the lead in route one fashion. Zenden lofted a long ball forward from deep left and, with Cousins racing ambitiously off his line to collect, Bent was able to nick a header over him from the edge of the box and into the net.
The U’s could have collapsed after the opener, but they stuck to their task and created a couple of chances of their own as Odejayi fired just wide and James blasted over following neat build-up play.
At the other end, former Liverpool and Middlesbrough man Zenden continued to show a touch of class down the left side and he almost created an exact replica of the first goal on the half hour mark when another superbly measured long ball just evaded Campbell at the back post.
The same combination of Zenden and Bent combined to score Sunderland’s second in the 37th minute and although it was a bitter blow for the U’s following a solid start, they continued to battle away and almost pulled one back in two minutes before the break when Anthony Wordsworth had a towering header clawed out from under the bar by Mignolet following a wicked James corner.
The smattering of U’s fans sang ‘we’re going to 3-2’ at the start of the second half and they were given hope soon after the restart as first Wordsworth headed straight at the keeper from a fine James free-kick, before David Perkins saw a curling effort palmed away for a corner.
Colchester continued to stroke the ball around well and they created two more great chances as first Henderson came mightily close with a stooping far post header following a fine Wilson cross, before Perkins was denied only by a superb diving save from Mignolet moments later.
It took Sunderland until the 61st minute of the second half to register their first real attack on goal as Baldwin cleared following a strong run and cross from Zenden, however the U’s remained by far the better side.
The game went a little flat in the closing stages as both sides made changes. And it was one of those subs – Martyn Waghorn – who came closest to adding to the scoring when he left the crossbar rattling with a long range rocket.
In the end 2-0 perhaps slightly flattered the hosts though, this performance leaving Ward with plenty of positives for the season ahead.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Simon Mignolet 8, Anton Ferdinand 7, Phil Bardsley 7, Michael Turner 7, Titus Bramble 7, Fraizer Campbell 6, Bolo Zenden 8, Lee Cattermole 6, Kieran Richardson 7, Danny Welbeck 6, Darren Bent 8.
Subs: Trevor Carson (not used), Ahmed El Mohamady (not used), Jordan Henderson (not used), Jack Colback 7 (for Bent 83), Andy Reid 7 (for Zenden 63), 0 Martyn Waghorn 7 (for Welbeck 63), 0 Steed Malbranque (not used)
Colchester Utd (4-3-3): Mark Cousins 5, Brian Wilson 7, John White 7, Magnus Okuonghae 7, Pat Baldwin 7, Kemi Izzet 6, Lloyd James 8, David Perkins 8, Ian Henderson 7, Anthony Wordsworth 8, Kayode Odejayi 7.
Subs: Lee Beevers 6 (for Izzet 50), Ashley Vincent 6 (for Perkins 66), Andy Bond (not used), 0 David Mooney (not used), Medy Elito 6 (for Henderson 77), Matt Heath (not used), 0 Carl Pentney (not used). Booked: Henderson (39).
U’s Man of the Match: Wordsworth
Referee: Mr S Mathieson