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Sunderland 1 Notts County 2: Paul Ince shows his mettle as County maul Black Cats

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09 Jan 2011 00:55:40

Sunderland 1 Notts County 2: Paul Ince shows his mettle as County maul Black Cats

As a 12-year-old Newcastle nut, Steve Bruce would not have shared the euphoria of Sunderland's memorable 1973 FA Cup final victory. Perhaps it's understandable if he does not remember that the Second Division club's triumphant march to Wembley glory against Leeds that year began with a struggle to overcome third-round opponents Notts County after a replay. Had someone reminded him, Bruce might have avoided the embarrassment, not to say ignominy, of going out of this year's competition to a team 52 places below his sixth-placed Premier League side. They all count: Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet fails to deal with Craig Westcarr's cross to give Notts County the lead after five minutes He might have concentrated a bit moreon winning this game than next Sunday's visit of Sunderland's deadly rivals from north of the Tyne. The manager conceded that the Newcastle game was on his mind when he chose a line-up that showed sevenchanges from the side that won at Aston Villa during the week. Only five regular first-teamers, albeit numbering £23million striking pair Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan among them, started the match. 'We are down to the bare bones in terms of numbers with eight injured and I thought I could risk it with this game coming up next week,' he said. 'My thoughts were with the Premier League (game). The people I put on have played in World Cups, but we didn't apply ourselves. I still thought we had a team good enoughto beat Notts County.' Happy days: Lee Hughes celebrates the opening strike Bruce's former Manchester United team-mate Paul Ince resisted the opportunity to express publicly his delight and pride at the way his team ripped up the form-book. The County boss deferred to his assistant Alex Rae on grounds of superstitution. 'He sends me up and we're unbeaten in six games,' smiled the former Sunderland midfielder. 'It was fantastic result. Credit mustgo to the players. They were outstanding. The dressing room is bouncing. It's a great achievement against top opposition. We will savour this. We're delighted to be in the next round.' Referee Stuart Atwell has already built up a dossier of controversy in his embryonic refereeing career buthis decision to award County a fifth-minute goal was as courageous as it was correct in spite of protests. Reunited: But Paul Ince (left) put one over on his former team-mate Steve bruce Ben Davies slung a high ball into themiddle for Craig Westcarr to flick on and Kieran Richardson, under pressure from Lee Hughes, collided with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who allowed the ball to slip over the line. It sparked a storm of confrontation with home defenders. 'Someone says Hughesy might have pushed someone but I didn't see it,' said Rae. 'Once you have the lead you find the extra yard. We were comfortable in the first half.' It was not until the 28th minute thatthe home team threatened their opponents' goal. Andy Reid, back from his loan spell at Sheffield United, blasted wide from a good shooting position. We've done it!: Notts Country players celebrate their victory over Sunderland But the visitors came close to doubling their advantage when Westcarr forced Mignolet into a full-length save. A minute before the interval, Ghana striker Gyan gave an indication of the forthcoming wastefulness when he miskicked in front of goal after Reid had slipped him a great pass. There was far worse to come. Steed Malbranque and Bent missed fourgreat opportunities before Hughes struck another blow in the 75th minute, dancing through two tackles before firing in a shot that Mignolet managed to stop with his legs. The ball was not cleared, though, andthe keeper was left stranded when he attempted to punch another high ball, Hughes squeezing the ball into the net from an acute angle. Sunderland replied ten minutes from time when Richard Ravenhill pulled down Reid and Bent scored from the spot, but County held out.  Bruce: The day I saw Ince pull a gun on Ferguson at Manchester UnitedSunderland eye Inter's Muntari and PSG's Sessegnon in double loan dealAll the latest Sunderland news, features and opinion  Explore more:People: Darren Bent, Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Alex Rae Places: Newcastle, Leeds, Ghana


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