Sunderland made the short 60 mile trip west to Carlisle United in the EFL Cup second round.
Simon Grayson made 10 changes from the team that were hammered by Leeds on Saturday; the only constant being Gabon born central midfielder Didier Ndong. Grayson went with one up front with Joel Asoro and perhaps would’ve went two if youngster Josh Maja hadn’t have been ruled out through injury. A competitive debut was handed to goalie Robbin Ruiter as well as a return from injury for Bryan Oviedo.
Sunderland started looking unconvincing and lackluster as some players looked incapable of playing. Namely Wahbi Khazri, Papy Djilobodji, Adam Matthews and Darron Gibson. The first chance fell to Carlisle’s Richie Bennett but he could only head wide of Ruiter’s goal. Matthews then gave the ball away inside his own half allowing Irishman Jamie Devitt to deliver a cross to Ellis who hit it straight at Ruiter. The Dutchman turned it away but Carlisle weren’t finished. Another in-swinging cross was cleared by Djilobodji, even though it was heading for a goal kick, but unconvincingly and the ball instead fell for Devitt who tested Ruiter with a left footed shot towards the top of the goal.
Not long after this Sunderland had their first real chance, it fell to Khazri who hit a shot from outside the area but it was too close to goalkeeper Jack Bonham.
Some good link up play down the left between Khazri and Oviedo eventually found Lynden Gooch. He beat the full back and smashed it across the 6 yard area to Sunderland right back Donald Love who finished in the empty net - much to the amusement of the 1900 travelling supporters. Another delightful ball by Gooch caught the Blues on the counter as he played young striker Asoro who beat both centre halfs for pace before trying to beat Bonham through his legs, but the on loan Brentford goalkeeper made the save to deny the Mackems doubling their lead.
Ruiter was again called into action when Devitt was played in through a deflected long shot, although he looked offside by about 5 yards as Djilobodji and John O’Shea seemed to assume the flag had went up, leaving Ruiter to make a save with his chest keeping Sunderland in the driving seat. Sunderland approached half time on the back foot and looked very uncomfortable especially when Ruiter was beaten but the woodwork wasn’t after a low cross wasn’t dealt with and fell to Reggie Lambe who rattled the upright.
Second half started how the first ended with the visitors on the back foot. A tempting cross was dealt with by a Ruiter punch but Djilobodji clumsily foulded Bennett and the referee pointed to the spot. Cumbrians skipper Danny Grainger stepped up only for Ruiter to save, unluckily the rebound fell perfectly for Grainger who tucked the leveller.
James Vaughan would come on for Sunderland and provided some much needed energy and fresh legs, the ex Bury hitman completely changed the game’s dynamic and ultimately it won the game for Grayson’s men. Centre half sub Lamine Kone bottled a shot before academy graduate Gooch put the visitors in front minutes later after being played in by Didier Ndong, the American curled home from outside the area past Bonham to bag his first professional, competitive goal for the Black Cats.
Overall, an unconvincing win for Sunderland against a spirited Carlisle side that threw everything at Sunderland but just couldn’t finish it. The tie was ultimately devided by one quality goal. Devitt certainly tested Ruiter on his debut on more than one occasion. Simon Grayson’s men will be in the hat for the draw for round 3 at Thursday 4:25am in China.
Ruiter - 8, Love - 8 (Kone ’65), Matthews - 4, Djilobodji - 4, O’Shea - 6, Oviedo - 7 (McGeady ’72), Ndong - 6, Gibson - 5, Gooch - 8, Khazri - 5, Asoro - 6 (Vaughan ’66)
Kone - 7, McGeady - 6, Vaughan - 7