Ricky Sbragia, the Sunderland manager, is looking forward to reaping the benefits of a fruitful strike partnership between Djibril Cissé and Kenwyne Jones after both players scored in Saturday's third-round win over Bolton Wanderers at the Stadium of Light.
They, along with Kieran Richardson and El-Hadji Diouf, were the hosts' better players in a poor game which almost saw them squander a 2-0 lead with 23 minutes to go after Ebi Smolarek's fortuitous goal from a cross-shot. Jones scored with a powerful header from Richardson's 57th-minute left-wing free-kick while Cissé smartly volleyed home Carlos Edwards' cross 10 minutes later.
Cisse's strike was his sixth in 11 matches with Jones scoring four in five. It is the sort of form Sunderland's forwards will have to maintain if they are to haul the side away from the Premier League relegation zone.
"I thought the players worked their socks off, the front two were excellent and got their rewards, but they were backed up by a good midfield and I thought the back four did well as well," Sbragia said. " We used Djibril's pace and Kenwyne physically led the line really well and they got their joy with a goal each.
"I thought they won us the game. I know they scored us the goals but they allowed us to get up better when they retained the ball. On their day they are a handful. We always feel we can score goals from them. The more they can play together the better they will be as a pair and the more understanding they will have together.
Smolarek's freakish consolation failed to paper over the cracks of a below-par performance from Bolton and manager Gary Megson is likely to tell a number of players he expects better. "There are not very many positives," he said. "I'm a bit upset with what we have been doing the last two or three weeks. If you do lose a game you should lose it in the right manner. We have got too many people at the minute who are not playing as I know they can."
Goals: Jones (57) 1-0; Cissé (67) 2-0; Smolarek (79) 2-1.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Fulop; Chimbonda, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, Collins; Edwards (Reid, 82), Whitehead, Richardson (Tainio, 78), Diouf; Jones, Cissé. Substitutes not used: Colgan (gk), Miller, Chopra, Yorke, Healy.
Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Shittu, A O'Brien, Samuel (Riga, 86); Nolan, Muamba, Gardner, Taylor, Davies (Smolarek, 73); Elmander. Substitutes not used: Bogdan (gk), Basham, Obadeyi, Hunt, Fojut.
Referee: S Bennett (Kent).
Booked: Sunderland Whitehead, Tainio; Bolton Muamba, Shittu, Steinsson, Nolan, Taylor.
Man of the match: Jones.
Attendance: 20,685.Reuse content