Brighton and Hove Albion 1
Craig Mickail-Smith 95
A deserved victory for the Championship side against a toothless Sunderland side that look in for a season of struggle in the Premiership. What didn’t help the Wearsiders cause was manager Steve Bruce’s decision to begin the match with no recognised forward on the pitch or the former Manchester United man’s performance at the start and interval in extra time when he appeared disinterested and made no serious attempt to motivate a side that he has expensively assembled. None of which bodes well for a side that, with just one goal in three games, is clearly in need of a lift.
Backed by a noisy crowd the home side, already confident following an unbeaten start to the season, pushed forward at the start. Nevertheless with only three minutes gone they should have been punished when Liam Bridcutt gave away possession and Stephane Sessegnon was left with just Casper Ankergen to beat, but the Benin international flashed his shot high and wide. Brighton danger man Craig Mackail-Smith then brought a good save out of debutant Keiran Westwood before Sessegnon saw a shot blocked by Ankergen.
A mix-up between Westwood and Anton Ferdinand left Mickail-Smith with a great chance but the forward failed to hit the net and just before half-time the home side did well to stay on level terms as Craig Gardner saw his shot punched away by Ankergen before Wes Brown was only inches away from touching home Sebastian Larsson’s cross.
On the restart Kieran Richardson was in superbly to prevent Ashley Barnes, sent free by a Ryan Harley ball over the Sunderland defence, from giving Brighton the lead. When minutes later the away defence was split in similar fashion Mickail-Smith and most of the crowd were already celebrating when his shot beat Westwood only to hit the inside of the post and somehow stay out of the net.
With Gus Poyet’s side looking to win the tie in 90 minutes there were strong appeals for a penalty when Inigo Calderon went down in the box, referee Andy D’Urso booking the midfielder for diving. As extra-time beckoned Dunk blocked Gardner’s shot from the edge of the box before Ahmed Elmohamady headed miserably wide when left unmarked inside the area.
Five minutes into the additional 30 minutes it was Brighton who scored the all-important opener. Man of the match Craig Noone released Alan Navarro and when his cross flew towards the back post an unmarked Mackail-Smith had little difficulties in scoring. There were still 25 minutes remaining but only once did the Black Cats look like getting back on level terms when Sessegnon found £8 million man Craig Wickham who fired well over with just Ankergen to beat. Brighton thus deservedly progressed to round three, whilst for Sunderland there’s the prospect of a tricky match on Saturday away to Swansea, before Chelsea are at the Stadium of Light.
Standing up report
Many fans in the Brighton 'home end' stood for much of the match.
1,205 away fans paid £24 each and largely sat throughout the match.