SUNDERLAND head coach Gus Poyet hailed the way his players negotiated a tricky home FA Cup tie against a motivated Carlisle side which brought more than 5,000 fans over from Cumbria.
The Uruguayan had built up the FA Cup third round tie – taking place little more than 48 hours before the Capital One Cup semi-final first leg against Manchester United – as still a very important one for the club.
And he was pleased to see the discipline and determination with which his players approached their task.
“I put out a cup team and I got a professional performance from them,” he observed after Sunderland’s 3-1 success against the League One visitors.
“We needed to do a job and, in these circumstances, it is never easy.
“We needed to cope with a few physical situations and shots. But we did that and, in the end, it was job done.
“It was a very pleasing day.
“We had young players making their debuts, which was great to see – fans always get excited about that.
“We got goals, we got the win and quite a lot of players were rested, so things could not have gone much better.”
The tie was also beneficial in seeing man-of-the-match Adam Johnson showing something like a return to form.
“Adam Johnson needed a good game,” nodded Poyet.
“It was a good opportunity for him to perform and do something special and I think the goal will do his confidence good.
“There wasn’t a great atmosphere around the place after the Aston Villa defeat on New Year’s Day, but, credit to the players, they have got a win which has cheered everyone up.
“Carlisle conceding an own goal early in the second half worked for us.
“We wanted to score quickly, but the more the game went on the more I felt we would get chances because of the superior fitness of our players.”
Now Sunderland will face the winner of the replay between Conference outfit Kidderminster Harriers and League One side Peterborough in the next round on January 25, with Poyet admitting, with matches coming thick and fast, he is more concerned about the game’s location than the opposition.
“I’m just glad that it’s a home tie,” he sighed. “It’s a big thing for us that we don’t have to travel.
“There’s not too much time for training or planning or improving things right now, with so many games, so it’s a bonus that we’ve avoided an away trip. It’s all about mentality for us now, about us being up for games like we were up for the Carlisle game.”