Black Cats v Bluebirds. Match preview

Last updated : 14 October 2003 By Michael Morris
City take the long and winding road to Sunderland for tonights game against last seasons Premiership whipping boys. Sunderland were relegated with a record low points tally. Things were just as bad for Mick McCarthy as the season started but after 2 defeats Sunderland have won 7 of the last 9 league games and are one of the forces to be reckoned with in Division 1.

For Cardiff City fans it's a dream to see their team play at the Stadium of Light. After the play off heartbreak in 2002 matches against established Premiership teams in massive stadiums were as far away as ever. But how quickly things change, less than 18 months on and we have moved up, Sunderland have moved down and we are getting the chance to experience bigger and better teams and stadiums.

The longest trip any team has to make in this Divison is this particular one, and what do the planners do? Make it a Tuesday night game, it's harsh on many City fans who cannot afford the time off work to make the trip. Amazingly though over 20 coaches carrying approx 1,000 fans and several hundred driving, flying and taking the train will be on Weirside tonight. With a total travelling support estimated at between 1,500 and 2,000.

Cardiff need to address what has become a poor away record. Only one win in 6 on the road, that came at Notts Forest. Draws against Rotherham and Walsall have made it 5 points from 18 with defeats coming at Reading, Sheff Utd and Palace. City are away again on Saturday at Coventry, we must win at least one of the games.

City came close to being at full strength with the return of John Robinson for tonights game but Peter Thorne is now missing. Andy Campbell will start alongside Robert Earnshaw in attack. It's a bit of a homecoming for Campbell who is from the North East. let's hope he can shine before he starts a three match ban from this Saturday.

Willie Boland is also out for three games after tonight while Graham Kavanagh has a one match ban.

So for tonight then City are likely to be

Alexander, Weston, Vidmar, Gabbidon, Barker, Langley, Boland, Kavanagh, Robinson, Campbell, Earnshaw.

City's international players reported back safe and well, Kav and Alexander (who did not play on the weekend) meet the squad in Sunderland and 6 of the 7 start tonights game. James Collins, who played for the U21's should be on the bench. Also likely to be on the bench is new loan signing Julian Gray. The 24 year old midfielder from Crystal Palace maybe needed to start on Saturday with the gap in midfield caused by Boland and Kav's absense. Gareth Whalley is also in tonights squad, returning after injury. There is no mention of Mark Bonner in the morning papers squad listing. I wonder if Lennie is saving him for a role on Saturday.

Subs then expected to be from Margetson, Collins, Prior, Whalley, Gray,

There will be more exact sqaud news this afternoon.

Sunderland have a 48,000 seater stadium that is now only half full this season after relegation from the Premiership. Their recent form would suggest they have a fair chance of going back up. They have won their last three league games inc a 1- 0 win at Sheff Utd. At home they have won the last 4. Their only hiccup was their opening home fixture against Millwall when they went down by a single goal.

Sunderland last lined up

Poom, Breen, McCartney, Whitley, Healy, Arca, Butler, Oster, Williams, Stewart, Kyle.

Mart Poom, the keeper, scored the other week. He earned a point with an injury time header at Derby. Colin Healy kept Kav of the Irish team on the weekend, John Oster is in good form, he came on as a sub for Wales in Cardiff on Saturday. Marcus Stewart was a big name signing from Ipswich. Their star man at the moment is Kevin Kyle, the striker scored the winner at Bramall Lane and has 7 goals so far this season.

Sunderland could be without Poom, he injured his shoulder on the weekend. Definately missing will be Jason McAteer while Paul Thirwell is racing against time to make the squad.

It's been close on 24 years since we last travelled to Sunderland, on that occasion we lost 2 - 1, earlier in 1979 we won their 2 - 1. The last ever meeting of the clubs was a 1 - 1 draw in 1980 at Ninian Park.

One other lttle bit of trivia, Sunderland won the FA Cup in 1973. They beat Leeds Utd 1 - 0 at Wembley thanks to an Ian Porterfield goal. It was one of the great cup upsets. 48 hours later the newly crowned cup winners were at Ninian park playing a 1 - 1 draw against City.

Being as we like to chuckle at Leeds at the moment I thought you might like to read the following text from the 73 Cup final. (Older readers will remember watching the game live on TV - I do).

"Upsets don't come much bigger then this. Leeds United, 3rd in the league, the cup holders and in the final of the European Cup-Winners cup against 2nd division Sunderland.

The warnings were there for Leeds after Sunderland had dispatched Arsenal in the semi-finals but come the day of the final only the Roker Park die-hards would bet on a Sunderland win.

Two moments decided the match. The first came in the 32nd minute as Sunderland capitalised on their first corner. As the ball bounced up in the box, Ian Porterfield volleyed the winning goal from the edge of the goal area.

The second moment was one that will go down in goalkeeping folklore along with Bank's save from Pele in the 1970 world cup. Leeds right-back, Paul Reaney crossed a ball into the area where Trevor Cherry stole in from the blind side and powered a header towards the top corner of the net. Jim Montgomery twisted in mid-air to parry the ball out but only onto the lethal foot of Peter Lorimer. From only 6 yards out, Lorimer lashed the ball into the seemingly unguarded net but "Monty" appeared from nowhere to deflect the ball onto the bar and eventually away to safety. If Goalkeepers ever win games...This was the proof.

Leeds increased the pressure but to no avail and Sunderland could have doubled their lead in the final minutes as Vic Halom forced David Harvey into making a fine save.

On the final whistle Sunderland boss, Bob Stokoe, ran straight to the arms of "Monty" and was soon joined by a cluster of red and white shirts."

Aaah, Leeds Utd and FA Cup upsets. Nice.