Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Face Casper in First Cup Challenge

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Face Casper in First Cup Challenge

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Sunderland will start their League Cup campaign in the less-than-glamorous surroundings of Bury's Gigg Lane.

The scale of the Black Cats' fall from grace after relegation from the Premiership last season will be emphasised by their appearance at the 11,000-capacity stadium on August 22.

The Wearsiders were the top seeds in the draw, which was made on a north-south basis. The majority of Premiership clubs do not join the competition until the second round, with the eight clubs in Europe this season, including Newcastle United, receiving a bye into the third round.

The Shakers were 19th in last season's League Two and their manager, Chris Casper, is the youngest in the Football League. The 31-year-old was a member of the Manchester United side which won the FA Youth Cup alongside Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Keith Gillespie.

Casper is excited at the prospect of taking on one of the Football League's biggest draws on Bury's own patch.

"Sunderland are a massive club and it's a challenge but there should be no fear and we have certainly got a chance," he said.

Sunderland only have one pre-season fixture scheduled, although they will learn their full league programme for the coming season when the Football League announces its fixture list later today. The delay is thought to have been caused by the lack of a manager at the Stadium of Light, although the club has denied this.

Gigg Lane used to host Manchester United's reserves but the Red Devils moved their second string because of their dissatisfaction with the quality of the playing surface.

Bury's home has also hosted rugby league, baseball, cricket, wrestling, American football, lacrosse, police athletics and sports meetings, as well as a Girl Guides convention in the past.

The last time the two sides met was in April 1999 when the Wearsiders ran out 5-2 winners at Gigg Lane. Kevin Phillips scored four goals, with strike partner Niall Quinn getting the other.

Their last meeting in the League Cup was the previous season, Sunderland winning 4-2 on aggregate.

All three North-East clubs involved in the competition's first round have been drawn away from home. …

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