ECHO VERDICT – Brighton’s Mackail-Smith everything Sunderland are lacking

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“GOOD player,” said Steve Bruce with an approving nod when asked about Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith before the arduous trip to the south coast.

It was typical of Bruce’s fortunes that the prolific ex-Peterborough man was to live up to the billing by settling an enthralling Carling Cup tie after deservedly earning reward for being the most threatening forward on the pitch.

Stephane Sessegnon had the edge over Mackail-Smith when it came to control, tricky and individual desperation to break his side’s lean streak in front of goal.

But, as a direct goal threat, Mackail-Smith was by far the most dangerous predator either starting or entering the fray – agonisingly seeing his shot rebound back off the post early in the second half before losing the attentions of the daydreaming Ahmed Elmohamady to nod home the extra-time winner.

The Scotland international is everything which Sunderland lack up front at the moment, a striker who can linger on the back of the last man, work the channels and break into life inside the six-yard box.

Read Chris Young’s full verdict in today’s Echo.