Rowell Report: Fitness a major factor in Sunderland’s cup progress

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist

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WHAT AN unbelievable night of cup football we had on Tuesday at the Stadium of Light.

If we are talking about the last 15 minutes, then we had it all – goals, excitement, sheer drama and a comeback that puts us into the next round of the Capital One Cup.

Unfortunately, to get there, we had to endure the first 75 minutes which were riddled with errors, dull and at times inept.

Sunderland at the moment are a team posing more questions than giving answers.

Are we the team who for long periods were outplayed by a team two divisions below us?

Or are we the team who finally clicked into gear, got some momentum and then blew MK Dons away? Who knows?

At the moment, the old cliché of being a work in progress certainly applies to Sunderland.

Individually, Jozy Altidore and Connor Wickham got off the mark for the season and that is so important for strikers, giving them more confidence and putting them in a far more positive frame of mind.

Adam Johnson also scored and it was my personal favourite of the night after a lung-bursting run.

I’m still not quite sure how he squeezed it in from that angle!

It seems to be the Sunderland way that we don’t deal well with teams from lower divisions in the early rounds of the cup.

But at least this time we got through, even if we did it the hard way.

Maybe we saw for the first time the rewards of Paolo Di Canio’s new training and fitness regime, as we definitely were the stronger team in the closing stages and that could have been a big factor in the win and progress into the next round.