So a Sunderland team can score goals, more than they concede, and reach a cup final. Salut! Sunderland promised to think positively in the approach to Bolton away, and we’re true to our word, offering a big bravo to Keith Bertschin and his team for this scoreline in the ToteSport Cup semi-final:
Sunderland Res 5 Preston North End Res 3
‘A lot of supporters criticised the club for playing the match behind closed doors but, again in the spirit of goodwill, we’re sure there was the strongest possible reason for deciding it could not take place, for the benefit of those who like to see how the Reserves are getting on, at the Stadium of Light or indeed elsewhere in a public setting.
But if keeping fans out is a recipe for goals and wins, Steve Bruce clearly has his answer: move the Wolves home game, too, to the Academy of Light on the A1018 at Cleadon, and make last-minute requests to Bolton and West Ham to banish the public from the Reebok on Saturday and the Boleyn on the last day of the season.
Here is an edited account of the 5-3 win over Preston drawn from reports by safc.com’s Stu Vose and the PNE pages of footymad.net. The victory takes the Reserves to a final to be played, because of fixtures congestion, next season (anyone know against whom?): …
Sunderland’s second string saw off a spirited revival from Preston to secure their place in the Tote Cup final.
Ryan Noble scored twice on his return from a minor knock while Craig Lynch, Matthew Fletcher and Billy Knott also found the net.
Playing their final game of the campaign, Keith Bertschin’s side looked to be cruising after motoring into a three-goal lead inside 36 minutes.
A Noble goal either side of two Preston strikes made it 4-2 at the break, and nerves were jangling when the Lancashire side pulled within a goal just after the hour. But Sunderland rode out the storm and upped their game once again to secure victory thanks to a goal from Knott three minutes from time, booking their place in the final which will take place early next season due to fixture congestion.
… Bertschin fielded two trialists – Jason Benton and Roarie Deacon – in his starting line-up and welcomed back Michael Liddle following a successful loan spell at Gateshead.
… In a mad couple of minutes before the end of the first half saw three goals.
Preston pulled one back when a Neil Dougan was put in his own net by Louis Lang. Then moments later Sunderland made a three goal difference again when Ryan Noble scored his second goal of the night to make it 4-1.
Just before the end of the first half Brandon Zibaka was brought down in the penalty area by the goalkeeper. Alan Sheenan scored from the spot to make it 4-2.
PNE reduced the arrears again from Michael Mclellan to make it 4-3 on 62 minutes, but PNE couldn’t get the equaliser and the eighth goal of the night was scored by Billy Knott on 87 minutes.
Sunderland: Carson, Bagnall, Adams, Laing, Liddle, Benton (Mitchell, 65), Fletcher, Knott, Deacon, R Noble, Lynch.
Subs Not Used: Lamb, King, Gorrin, Laidler.
Preston: Comrie, Thurston, Sheehan, Miller, Holtom, Hart, Dudley, Clucas, McLellan, Zibaka, Dougan.
Subs Not Used: Watson, Kuba-Kuba.