Sheffield United 0 Sunderland 1: More cup pain for Blades as they tumble out at hands of League One Black Cats

Twenty minutes or so earlier, Bramall Lane had been illuminated by a new, high-tech 'light show' courtesy of their freshly-developed, multi-million-pound floodlight system.

Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 10:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 10:36 pm
Ravel Morrison of Sheffield Utd skips past Laurens De Bock of Sunderland during the Carabao Cup match at Bramall Lane: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Then, the famous old stadium was lit up by a flash of Max Power's right boot; the Sunderland midfielder giving his side an early lead at Sheffield United in the Carabao Cup tonight.

Before then United had been well on top, making almost all of the early running, but with Power's effort came a sense of 'here we go again'. United have had their share of underwhelming cup days here of late - the best, or worst, example being THAT infamous FA Cup defeat to non-league Barnet - and even in the last round, when Blackburn were dispatched 2-1, they had to lean on Simon Moore to save an early penalty before they progressed.

Again here they toiled, for the first half hour or so especially. Save for the odd opening, mainly when Lys Mousset and Callum Robinson combined, the League One visitors looked the more threatening, Moore being forced into action to palm an awkward, curling effort away from danger.

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It didn't get much better. It's tempting on days like this, when players are 'thrown together' out on the field and then don't perform, to have some sympathy with them, but at the same time no-one put their hand up and said 'I deserve a start in the Premier League'. Lys Mousset is probably the most likely to feature against Liverpool this weekend and if he does start, it'll be on the back of his Everton cameo rather than tonight.

Mousset and Callum Robinson, the only survivor from Goodison Park in a team of ten changes, ran their boots off upfront on limited service; Moore could do nothing about Power's opener while Richard Stearman marshalled United's defence well.

So where does the blame lie for United's disjointed display? Boss Chris Wilder took responsibility last time and time will tell if he does again, but even from his point of view, what is he supposed to do? Fans would scream from the rooftops if he played, say, Jack O'Connell or Enda Stevens and they picked up an injury, with such a big game on the horizon.

On paper, too, this was a team that could handle itself in the Championship and, with the added caveat of showing the manager their worth, manager and fans are right to expect more.

Even when Wilder called for the cavalry off the bench, throwing on Oli McBurnie, Leon Clarke and then John Fleck late on, it wasn't enough. No magic of the cup here once again at Bramall Lane... but like it or not, the Blades have much more important tests on the horizon. Starting back here on Saturday.