Sunderland 1 Ipswich Town 0: Evans sticks to text with show of real potential

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The Independent Football

'cd u let me have jonny e on loan 4 a few wks'
'2 late keano hes off 2 bljm'
'wot abt Jan'
'c wot i can do...'
'owe u 1'

It is official. The age of the text message transfer deal is upon us and two quite unlikely figures appear to be to the fore.

"Sir Alex Ferguson told me Roy Keane had been texting him and asking if I could come to Sunderland," said Jonny Evans, the Manchester United defender who has joined until the end of the season. "I was in Antwerp at the time but when I came back this month I told the gaffer this was where I wanted to be. Roy Keane was my favourite player and my dad was very excited when he called to say Sir Alex was willing to let me join the club."

The Belfast-born defender, who played in Northern Ireland's 3-2 victory against Spain in this season's European Championship qualifier, saved two points for his new club with a 63rd-minute clearance off the goal-line.

Keane may have been crowing about the capture of the former Arsenal forward Anthony Stokes and the creative midfielder Carlos Edwards from Luton, but it was Evans who stood head and shoulders above his peers in a fixture ruined by strong winds.

"I think the first time I spoke to Roy Keane was in the gym at Carrington," the 20-year-old said after David Connolly's sixth goal of the season settled a forgettable fixture. "We were both injured. He introduced himself and said, 'I'm Roy.' I replied, 'I know.' He's the kind of man you only speak to when you're spoken to."

In fact, Evans converses with as much confidence as he commands a defence and it is little wonder Ferguson forced him to sign a four-and-a-half year contract at Old Trafford before allowing him to gain experience elsewhere. "I have never played football at such a high level," Evans said. "The football's physical and quick and I'm getting some great experience against quality players."

Evans will face far better players than those fielded by Jim Magilton, but the visitors would surely have gained a point had they had a greater threat up front. The defender Jason de Vos blamed the referee, Lee Mason, for his team's failure after the forward Alan Lee appeared to be fouled by Sunderland's goalkeeper, Darren Ward. "We should have had a penalty and we will have to put more effort into our appeals," he said.

Goal: Connolly (13) 1-0.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Ward; Whitehead, Nosworthy, Evans, Wallace (Collins, 66); Edwards, Leadbitter, Yorke, Hysen (Murphy, 64); Stokes (Elliott, 88), Connolly. Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Clarke.

Ipswich Town: (4-4-2): Price; Wright, Naylor, De Vos, Harding; Roberts (Clarke, 81), Legwinski, Garvan (Currie, 71), Richards (Haynes, 61); Williams, Lee. Substitutes not used: Supple (gk), Bruce.

Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

Booked: Ipswich Roberts.

Man of the match: Evans.

Attendance: 27, 604.