Humiliated Sunderland crash out of FA Cup at Bradford

OPENER ... Bradford celebrate.
OPENER ... Bradford celebrate.
Have your say

HUMILIATED Sunderland crashed out of the FA Cup to Bradford City after being out-battled, out-thought and out-muscled by the League One outfit.

Ex-Sunderland flop Jon Stead cemented Bradford’s place in the quarter-finals of the competition after a thunderous cup tie in which Gus Poyet’s men never came to grips with the conditions or hostile atmosphere at Valley Parade.

Sunderland had legitimate grievances with bungling referee Kevin Friend, but in truth, the Black Cats never recovered from falling behind within the opening three minutes when Billy Clarke’s shot was deflected into his own net by John O’Shea.

Steven Fletcher should have levelled, before being chopped down by Rory McArdle, only for Friend to somehow wave away the appeals for a penalty.

But Bradford always looked the more dangerous outfit in an old-fashioned cup tie and doubled their advantage through Stead, just after the hour mark.

Sunderland never remotely looked getting back into the game after that, to cap a miserable afternoon for Poyet’s side - and a miserable few days after the Premier League defeat to QPR.

Jermain Defoe, who had been carrying a minor groin problem, was rested as one of six changes to the Sunderland starting XI, yet it was still a strong side named by Gus Poyet.

Vito Mannone, Billy Jones, Ricky Alvarez, Wes Brown, Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham were all drafted into the side, with Defoe, Costel Pantilimon, Anthony Reveillere, Jordi Gomez, Santiago Vergini and Connor WIckham the ones to miss out.

Former Sunderland pair Billy Knott and Jon Stead both started for Bradford.

Sunderland began the match in an orthodox 4-4-2, with Alvarez and Adam Johnson out wide, and Liam Bridcutt and Seb Larsson forming a central midfield duo.

Bradford got off to the start they had been dreaming about, as they took a third minute lead.

Sunderland didn’t deal with Filipe Morais’ free-kick from the right, it bobbled through to Billy Clarke on the left-hand side of the area and his low shot took a deflection off John O’Shea and beat Mannone at his near post.

There was an ugly head-to-head four minutes later after Bradford centre-half Rory McRadle unceremoniously smashed into the back of Danny Graham, which left both players with cuts to the face.

Stead should have made it two in the 16th minute when James Meredith crossed from the left, but the striker couldn’t get a clean contact with his head and he glanced it harmlessly across the face.

Seconds later, Johnson was played in down the left-hand side of the area by Fletcher, only to be brilliantly tackled by Clarke, before his rebound was palmed away by Ben Williams.

The 110mph action continued, with Seb Larsson’s shot from the edge of the area deflecting into the path of Fletcher, onside and in acres of space of eight yards out.

Fletcher dallied needlessly, but was smashed into from behind by McArdle, only for referee Kevin Friend to wave away the appeals for a penalty.

Clarke almost had a second in the 24th minute when he got to the ball ahead of O’Shea and let fly with a low shot from just inside the area which was palmed away at the near post by Mannone.

Three minutes later, Johnson curled in an inswinging cross from the right, but Graham headed straight at Williams after getting between the Bradford centre-halves.

Williams just managed to spare his own blushes six minutes before the interval when Patrick van Aanholt’s shot from the edge of the area deflected off McArdle, bounced awkwardly in front of the keeper, who just managed to palm it away.

HALF-TIME Bradford 1 Sunderland 0

Sunderland made a change at the interval, with Connor Wickham coming on in place of Graham, who had struggled to shake off his first half head injury.

The visitors finally began to get to grips with the pitch and came close on the hour mark when van Aanholt’s ball over the top picked out Johnson, whose deflected chip went over Williams, but dropped just wide of the target.

But a minute later, Bradford doubled their advantage when Johnson collected the ball in the right-back spot, only to produce an awful clearance straight to James Hanson on the edge of the Sunderland area.

Hanson nodded it to Stead, who skipped past the challenge of Brown and fired in a low shot which Mannone couldn’t keep out.

Knott then stung Mannone’s hands in the 69th minute with a shot straight at the keeper from 25 yards after collecting Stead’s lay-off.

The midfielder came close again in the 77th minute with a curling left-footed free-kick from 25 yards which just cleared the bar.

Sunderland almost pulled one back with 10 minutes to go, but Williams plucked Wickham’s header from Larsson’s corner out of the air.

FULL-TIME Bradford 2 Sunderland 0

BRADFORD: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Davies, Meredith, Liddle, Morais, Knott (Halliday 78), Clarke (Yeates 86), Hanson, Stead (Zoko 89). Subs not used: Urwin, Sheehan, MacKenzie, Routis. Booked: Clarke (31)

SUNDERLAND: Mannone, Jones (Vergini 86), Brown, O’Shea, van Aanholt, Bridcutt, Johnson, Larsson, Alvarez (Honeyman 86), Fletcher, Graham (Wickham 46). Subs not used: Pantilimon, Gomez, Coates, Agnew. Booked: Fletcher (10), Larsson (36), Jones (67)

Referee: Kevin Friend

Attendance: 24,021