SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Stead signs for Blades, Varga to miss out

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago today.

STEAD SIGNS FOR BLADES:

... and Brown will follow through SoL door

JON STEAD today ended a frustrating 18-month stay at Sunderland when he signed for Premiership side Sheffield United.

 The 23-year-old this morning agreed a three-and-a-half year deal with United – Sunderland receiving an initial transfer fee of £750,000, rising to a potential £1.25million depending upon add-ons.

 Stead passed his medical this morning before putting pen to paper and there was every chance that fellow striker Chris Brown would follow him out of the Stadium of Light today.

 Brown was understood to have had his medical this morning on his way to tying up a potential move to Carrow Road which would see Sunderland net a £350,000 fee for the Academy product.

 Stead’s move will come as a frustration to Derby County, who last week failed with a bid to land a player who enjoyed a successful three-month loan spell at Pride Park.

 Sunderland rejected the Rams offer as too low.

 That development sparked the interest of Blades boss Neil Warnock, who is currently reshuffling his striking options, having sold Ade Akinbiyi back to Burnley.

 Warnock gave up signing another Championship player, Preston’s David Nugent, after the Lilywhites put a £6million sales tag on his head which the Sheffield manager called “outrageously over-priced.”

 The asking price for Stead though was much more within his price range.

 And although Stead was a complete flop for Sunderland in the Premiership, he did score the goals at the tail-end of a Blackburn season three years ago which kept Rovers in the top flight.

 That’s something which will be uppermost in Warnock’s mind with his team sitting just above the relegation zone and he will be hoping the striker can contribute similar heroics again.

 Meanwhile, Brown’s talks with Norwich are set to bear fruit, with the striker poised to agree a deal.

 City boss Peter Grant believes Brown could be a perfect foil for Robert Earnshaw, with Brown’s undeniable workrate and willingness to be his side’s tireless workforce up front, allowing the prolific Welsh international more time and space to reinforce his position as the Championship’s top scorer.

 Stead’s decision to join United will disappoint Cardiff City, who had been monitoring the situation, while Sheffield Wednesday were keeping an eye on developments with Brown.

VARGA SET TO MISS OUT:

STAN VARGA is facing a battle to be fit in time for Saturday’s game against Ipswich Town.

 The towering centre-half strained a hamstring in the 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Preston last Saturday and looks unlikely to be ready.

 Manager Roy Keane said: “Stan hasn’t trained all week after the injury. And while we haven’t given up on him being available, he remains a major doubt.”

 Should Varga not recover in time, Keane does have options, despite the continuing absence through injury of skipper Steve Caldwell and Kenny Cunningham.

 He told the Echo: “The good news is that Nyron Nosworthy has shaken off his hamstring strain and is back in full training and of course Danny Collins returned last week. So there is come choice for selection if Stan doesn’t make it.”

 Elsewhere, Sunderland have a clean bill of health. But Keane could again make changes, and there’s scope for all three of his January signings to start the game.

 Jonny Evans looks a certainty after impressing in last week’s game against Preston, while winger Carlos Edwards could start after being a second-half substitute last week.

 And Keane says £2m new boy Anthony Stokes will also come into contention.

 He said: “We’ve been really pleased with Jonny and I think there’s no doubt he’s going to be a top player.

 “Carlos impressed us when he came on against Preston, even though it was difficult circumstances with us down to 10 men – and now he has a good chance of starting the game on Saturday.

 “As for Anthony Stokes, he might have joined us only this week but he’s a fit and enthusiastic lad and he will definitely come into contention for the squad and for a possible place in the starting line-up.”

YOUTHS MARCH ON:

First half-flurry sees off Bolton

Sunderland Under-18s 2

Bolton Wanderers Under-18s 1

A TRIPLE whammy, with a two-goal burst and a sending-off in four minutes just before half-time, saw Sunderland through to the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup at the Stadium of Light last night.

 Although Bolton grabbed a last-minute goal, it was only a token consolation.

 The result was a richly-deserved victory for the young Black Cats and a winning margin could easily have been greater.

 It was by no means a pretty game with Sunderland’s passing and movement being counteracted by Bolton’s physical approach, especially in the second half after the visitors had been reduced to ten men.

 In fact, Sunderland did not really take advantage of their numerical superiority and the match was rather scrappy for long periods, with the hosts making rather hard work of it despite being the better side.

 But, as Sunderland’s coach Kevin Ball summed up: “The aim of a cup tie is to get into the next round and we’ve done it.”

 Sunderland had a half-chance in the seventh minute when Dave Dowson nearly nipped in, but Bolton defender Mark Ellis hooked away for a corner right in front of his own goalkeeper.

 Dowson was running both channels well, but often there was no-one up to take advantage of his centres. Young David Brown, an England under-16 international had come in at left-back for the injured Michael Liddle and had a promising game, being particularly constructive with his link-up play when going forward.

 Bolton came more into the game with striker Temitopi Ovadeyi looking a handful, but he was well held by Niall McArdle and Richard Smith.

 Then, in the 41st minute, the match burst into life.

 Martyn Waghorn muscled his way into Bolton’s area through two challenges to play in Dowson. The striker was just about to pull the trigger when he was brought down by Matthew Cassidy. Morpeth referee Curry deemed him to be last man and gave him the red card.

 It was a debatable decision but rather surprisingly, up stepped midfielder Jack Colback to take his first penalty of the season. The Tynesider made no mistake, driving low with style to keeper Robert Lainton’s left.

 Bolton’s sense of injustice was increased when Sunderland doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time.

 Nathan Luscombe centred and Waghorn caused problems with his challenge, the ball bouncing away to the edge of the area. Waiting was Jordan Henderson, who smashed home a rising volley into the roof of the net from 20 yards.

 It was a precision finish by the 16-year-old former Farringdon School pupil.

 Bolton’s ten men reorganised at half-time and adopted a decisively physical approach in an attempt to get back into the game.

 Luscombe particularly came in for some rough treatment, but the winger from Gateshead gave as good as he got, leaving Bolton’s sub David Gbemie leaping and finally down after one ferocious 50/50 challenge.

 Despite the battering, the game was becoming stretched and the Wearsiders had good chances for Dowson, Henderson, from a volley following a free-kick, and Robbie Weir.

 It should have been 3-0 two minutes from time when sub Jordan Cook fed Dowson, but the striker side-footed straight at the keeper.

 Three minutes into added time, Bolton’s Robert Sissons did flick home a near-post header to reward the visitor’s tenacity and spirit.

 But it was too little, too late.

 Sunderland were worthy winners. Watched by manager Roy Keane, they had taken the game to their opponents and were the better all-round side.

 Coach Kevin Ball said: “ We played well, especially in the first half and stood up well to the physical challenge.”

 Bolton coach Peter Farrell added: “It was rather a scrappy game and the penalty was debatable. We changed our shape in the second half with ten men and were the better team. But we ran out of ideas in the final third.