Four visiting players went into the book during City’s 4-2 win, and several Blues showed the scars of Sunderland’s uncompromising approach, with David Ball sporting a bandage right around his head after leaving the field in the second half.
But Academy Manager Jim Cassell had no problems with the way the Black Cats played and was delighted with a win that means City will be away to Aston Villa for the national title on a date yet to be decided.
“It was an exceptionally tough and physical game,” says Jim, “but I must say that I really like the Sunderland staff. They’re a good bunch of people and we know we’ll always be in for a game with them.
“We don’t complain and if they had won we would still have a drink with them, but I thought our performance was outstanding. We were patient and when the opportunity came we took it.
“At half time we thought we had shown them too much respect and we needed to be more positive, but that was part of the gameplan. Overall, I’m delighted and there were some good individual performances and James Poole was excellent after he came on, which just shows that this is a squad game.”