Sunderland’s Craig Gardner confident team will find shooting boots soon

Craig Gardner on the attack against Brighton.
Craig Gardner on the attack against Brighton.
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CRAIG GARDNER is confident Sunderland will find their shooting boots despite compounding derby misery by crashing out of the Carling Cup.

The Black Cats have found the net just once in their opening three games and again paid the price for wastefulness in the final third at Championship new boys Brighton last night as the Seagulls prevailed 1-0 in extra time.

Full debutant Gardner saw several efforts saved by Brighton stopper Casper Ankergren, although the hosts were worthy winners as Sunderland failed to provide any instant cheer following Saturday’s derby defeat.

Gardner admits Sunderland now desperately need to notch their first win of the season at newly-promoted Swansea this weekend, although he is not worried by the lack of goals.

The 24-year-old told the Echo: “We had the chances to get the goals, but their keeper pulled off some good saves.

“I had five or six shots myself and, on another day I would have scored.

“It wasn’t our night and all credit to Brighton. We’ve got a lot of quality in the squad, but we just need to get those goals and I’m sure they’ll come.

“We’ve got to go to Swansea and get the three points and I’m sure we will.

“We need to put it behind us now. We’ve got some big games coming up and we’ve got to pick up some points from them.

“We wanted to bounce back from Newcastle, but it hasn’t happened.”

Gardner lifted the Carling Cup last season with former club Birmingham and the competition was firmly within Sunderland’s sights after securing a first top-10 finish in a decade last year.

But, in an enthralling second round tie, Brighton were buoyed by a crowd witnessing Premiership opposition at the new Amex Stadium for the first time in a competitive encounter.

It took the Seagulls until the fifth minute of extra time to grab the only goal though as the impressive Craig Mackail-Smith headed home from six yards.

Gardner added: “They’ve come up from League One and they’re doing really well in the Championship. They’re a good team and they passed it around well.

“But, I don’t know, it was a tough night for us and it’s not good to get knocked out.

“They’ve got that momentum and all credit to them, they’re a good side and I wish them all the best this season. But it’s a defeat that’s really hard to take.

“The Carling Cup’s always nice to go far in.”