Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bruce Dreaming of FA Cup Magic; James Hunter's MATCH ANALYSIS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Bruce Dreaming of FA Cup Magic; James Hunter's MATCH ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

Byline: James Hunter

Sunderland ............... 3 Barrow ...................... 0 SUNDERLAND may have crushed the giantkilling dreams of brave Barrow - but the FA Cup retains all its old magic in Steve Bruce's eyes.

Only now it is the likes of clubs such as Sunderland who view the competition as a chance to revel in the glory of giving football's elite a bloody nose.

Because, with the Premier League dominated by the so-called Big Four, the cup competitions are now the only realistic route to silverware for the rest of the topflight clubs.

"I think the FA Cup is huge to any of the Premier League clubs," admits Bruce. "We have to be realistic - we're not in a position to win the league, so the only thing we can win is a cup.

"It's about winning six games, that's what it takes to win this competition.

"We got one out of the road on Saturday, and what we need now is a favourable draw." Well, Bruce got his wish, to a point.

The Black Cats will face a fourthround trip to either Premier League basement side Portsmouth or Championship strugglers Coventry, who fought out a 1-1 draw at the weekend - neither easy, but both certainly winnable.

Bruce said: "We've already seen what Portsmouth can do this season when they came up here, they'll be keen to do well in the competition.

"Coventry obviously did well to get a result there and we know they're a decent side. They will be strong at home.

"Should Coventry get through they'll have the incentive of another crack at a Premier League side. I've said the FA Cup is a priority for us this season - and that won't change."

Bruce's sense of priorities was evident at the weekend as he named the strongest side he had available against Blue Square Premier minnows Barrow - although injuries, suspensions and an international call-up deprived him of 10 players leaving virtually no room for manoeuvre.

After seven matches without a win, a victory was long overdue for Sunderland and will have brought some much-needed confidence after a couple of months that have seen the Black Cats' league form nosedive.

That wasn't the only long wait to come to an end at the weekend. …

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