Brentford 2 Sunderland 1: Campbell puts Black Cats down and out

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The Independent Football

Martin Allen is rarely lost for words. Prior to this FA Cup fourth-round tie, the Brentford manager was at his most talkative, disingenuously suggesting that he would rather have faced Chelsea than Sunderland, on the grounds that his battle-hardened League One outfit would have ruffled the feathers of Jose Mourinho's cosmopolitan troupe of prima donnas.

But following his side's manhandling of the Premiership's bottom club at Griffin Park on Saturday, Allen was in unusually reticent mood. "All I can say is that I thought it was a deserved victory. We were dominant throughout," he said, adding that two neatly taken goals had shown that DJ Campbell possesses "that bit of magic".

Despite sitting some 29 places below their visitors in the Football League, Brentford exuded a calm assurance that belied this tie's pre-match billing as Black Cats against the underdogs.

And although the quicksilver Campbell, all deft touches and slippery running, took the plaudits with a match-winning display, Mick McCarthy was left to bemoan his side's inability to marshal a striker who, he noted, had been playing non-league football only a year ago.

"I'm not criticising Brentford because they deserved to win, and they were two excellent finishes. But I think if I'd been playing centre half, he wouldn't have scored them," McCarthy said of the wiry striker who so terrorised the Sunderland rearguard.

Certainly Gary Breen and Neil Collins did little to inspire confidence at the heart of the visitors' defence, but the Sunderland boss rejected the suggestion that his side, eight points adrift in the Premiership and without consecutive wins all season, lacked the self-belief to close out the game once Julio Arca's sliced cross had sailed over Stuart Nelson to hand the visitors an unlikely equaliser.

"It's not a confidence thing, because we played great last week," he said, referring to his side's 1-0 victory over West Brom, just their second in the Premiership. "We were really confident. But we've come down here, and Brentford have done a job on us."

If McCarthy can be forgiven for focusing on his own side's shortcomings following a performance of such abject lethargy as to give the Black Cats' normally raucous following precious little to cheer, he was at least gracious enough to acknowledge Brentford's superiority.

Allen's team might have taken the lead before Campbell put them ahead early in the second half. Latching on to a lofted pass from the energetic Jay Tabb, the 23-year-old glided past Collins, before sidestepping Kelvin Davis and tucking his finish inside the post.

Arca's unexpected equaliser briefly threatened to force a replay but, having controlled the game from the opening, Brentford were in no mood to settle for a repeat fixture.

"As soon as they equalised I thought it was set up for a replay, but that was the last thing we wanted," admitted Tabb, who epitomised Brentford's industry with a sparkling display in midfield.

"We had a lot of replays last year, and I think you could tell in the play-offs that it affected us. On top of that it would have been a cold night up north, and we probably wouldn't have got back until three in the morning." But it was Sunderland who were left to return home pondering defeat in the early hours thanks to Campbell's late intervention.

His love affair with the competition that shot him to national prominence with Yeading last year looks to be an enduring one, and the forward brought the house down when he cushioned Lloyd Owusu's header, before calmly steering a left-foot shot past Davis.

Another consummate performance like this and Allen should remain optimistic about taking Brentford into the quarter-finals of this competition for the first time in 17 years, even if his side again avoid their West London neighbours in today's fifth-round draw.

Goals: Campbell (56) 1-0; Arca (66) 1-1; Campbell (89) 2-1.

Brentford (4-4-2): Nelson; Mousinho, Sodje, Turner, Frampton; Tillen (Brooker, 74), Newman, Tabb, Rankin (Hutchinson, 80); Campbell, Owusu. Substitutes not used: Bankole (gk), Fitzgerald, Gayle.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Davis; Hoyte, Breen, N Collins, D Collins; Lawrence, Whitehead, Miller, Arca; Stead (Gray, 59), Kyle (Le Tallec, 59). Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Nosworthy, Basilla.

Referee: M Halsey (Lancashire).

Booked: Sunderland Breen.

Man of the match: Campbell.

Attendance: 11,698.

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