Norwich City 1 Sunderland 4
AS A result of the camaraderie displayed by the two sets of supporters at the 1985 Milk Cup final, Sunderland and Norwich play for the Friendship Trophy each time they meet.
After retaining the silverware thanks to a comprehensive 4-1 win at Carrow Road tonight, Sunderland will be dreaming of claiming an even bigger prize at the end of February.
There is still a long way to go in this season’s Carling Cup, but given the investment that has been made at the Stadium of Light this summer, there is no reason why the Black Cats should not be involved in the business end of the competition.
After all, the likes of Oxford, Luton, Oldham, Leicester and Tranmere have all featured in the League Cup final since Sunderland and Norwich were trading blows 25 seasons ago.
Tonight’s second-round win was as easy as they come, with the Canaries displaying all the defensive frailties that led them to concede seven goals against Colchester on the opening weekend of the season.
Teemu Tainio opened the scoring in the 26th minute, before Andy Reid scored two goals in six minutes to smooth Sunderland’s passage to round three.
The Black Cats have only reached the fourth round once in the last five seasons, but that should be a minimum requirement following today's romp, which was confirmed when an Owain Tudur Jones own goal followed hot on the heels of Wes Hoolahan’s effort into the Sunderland net.
Like all top-flight managers, Steve Bruce must juggle the demands of the Carling Cup with the need to prioritise in the Premier League, but the strength of tonight’s starting line-up underlined the depth of the squad at his disposal.
George McCartney and Kenwyne Jones were the only survivors from Saturday’s 2-1 win over Blackburn, but Jordan Henderson was the only teenager on display and while Paulo Da Silva was making his debut, the Paraguay captain can hardly be described as a novice.
With the FA Cup not appearing in the schedules until the New Year, this is a Sunderland squad that should be more than capable of competing on two fronts.
It was certainly too good for Norwich, even if there were times in the opening quarter of tonight’s game when the Black Cats were tested by their League One opponents.
With Da Silva appearing rusty after missing the whole of pre-season, and Carlos Edwards struggling to find his bearings in an unorthodox right-back role, Craig Gordon was forced to make two fine saves in the opening 20 minutes to keep the scoresheet blank.
The first smothered a shot from Simon Whaley after the Norwich midfielder broke free of the back four, and the second, which was the pick of the pair, saw the Scotsman tip Simon Lappin’s fierce long-range drive over the crossbar.
After Marton Fulop’s struggles against Blackburn, it would be no surprise to see Gordon retaining his place in the side that lines up at Stoke on Saturday.
Gordon’s saves followed hot on the heels of a magnificent fingertip effort from Ben Alnwick, and by the end of the first half the former Sunderland goalkeeper had been considerably busier than the current one.
Alnwick turned Fraizer Campbell’s acrobatic effort onto the crossbar after the Black Cats striker had swivelled to produce a stunning volley from Henderson’s cross, but the Prudhoe-born goalkeeper, who made 19 appearances for the Wearsiders, was powerless to prevent the visitors putting the outcome beyond doubt with three goals in ten first-half minutes.
Tainio netted the first, and claimed his first Sunderland goal in the process, when he stole into the area to convert Jones’ cut back after the Trinidadian had brushed aside defender Gary Doherty to gallop down the right wing.
Reid claimed the second and third, and after only making a brief substitute appearance against Chelsea in the opening three games of the season, the Republic of Ireland international ensured Bruce was left in doubt as to his ball-playing abilities.
Reid’s first goal came courtesy of a wonderfully deft chip over Alnwick – Jones was again the provider, this time breaking free down the left – and it was hard to imagine too many other players summoning either the touch or finesse required to outfox the goalkeeper from the edge of the 18-yard box.
The midfielder’s second was a more routine finish, with Reid taking advantage of some dreadful marking from full-back Jon Otsemobor to slot home Campbell’s low cross.
The ten-minute triple whammy effectively ended the contest, even if Gordon’s reflexes were tested again by a low 14-yard strike from Welsh midfielder Tudur Jones.
Hoolahan pulled a goal back for the Canaries, tapping into an empty net shortly after the hour mark after Cody McDonald’s header had rebounded off the post, but Sunderland’s three-goal lead was restored when Tudur Jones sliced Reid’s corner into his own goal three minutes later.
That should have been that, but the game ended on a sour note when Campbell was injured in a collision with Alnwick seven minutes from time.
The striker was pushed to the floor by Michael Spillane, a foul that earned the Norwich defender a red card, and was unable to prevent Alnwick crashing into his shoulder.
Goals: Tainio (0-1, 26), Reid (0-2, 30; 0-3, 36), Hoolahan (1-3, 63), Tudur Jones (own goal, 1-4, 67)
Bookings: Reid (foul, 90)
Sending-off: Spillane (professional foul, 83)
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Manchester) 6
Alnwick 6; Otsemobor 3, Doherty 4, Spillane 4, Lappin 5; WHALEY 6 (McDonald 61, 6), Jones 5, Adeyemi 4 (Smith 75), Hoolahan 6; Holt 6 (Martin 61, 4), Daley 4. Subs (not used): Rudd (gk), Nelson, Hughes, McVeigh.
Gordon 8; Edwards 5, Da Silva 5, Nosworthy 6, McCartney 7; Henderson 6, Tainio 7 (Healy 74), Leadbitter 7, REID 8; Campbell 8 (Malbranque 86), Jones 7 (Murphy 46, 5). Subs (not used): Carson (gk), Bardsley, Ferdinand, O’Donovan.
MAN OF THE MATCH
ANDY Reid – two goal hero