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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 January 2006, 16:56 GMT
Sunderland 3-0 Northwich
Neill Collins
Sunderland reached the FA Cup fourth round with a comfortable win over Conference North side Northwich.

The Black Cats went in front after six minutes when defender Neill Collins blasted in after the visitors had failed to clear a corner.

Northwich were twice denied by Sunderland keeper Kelvin Davis before Dean Whitehead sidefooted home after being set up by Jon Stead.

Anthony Le Tallec tapped in a third as Northwich's FA Cup run came to an end.

The part-timers had played six games in the competition prior to their trip to the Stadium of Light.

And roared on by an estimated 4,000 travelling fans they looked determined to enjoy their moment in the spotlight.

But their dreams of pulling off a Cup shock against Mick McCarthy's Premiership strugglers looked unlikely after Collins' early goal.

The defender was recalled from a loan spell at Hartlepool to play in the game because of suspensions to Gary Breen and Steven Caldwell.

He fired in from inside the box after Northwich could only partially clear a Liam Lawrence corner.

Northwich went close when a free-kick from Carlos Roca took a late deflection and appeared to be goal-bound until Davis reacted to tip it around the post.

Stead missed as easy a chance as he is ever likely to have to open his account for the Black Cats after 33 minutes.

Julio Arca's powerful shot was well kept out by Kristian Rodgers but it looped towards an unmarked Stead at the back post only for him to misjudge it and hit the outside of the upright.

But four minutes before the break he made up for the error by laying the ball across for Whitehead to finish off a sweeping move.

Northwich battled valiantly after the break but when Le Tallec slotted home number three after a spell of dominance it was game over.

For the first time this season the Black Cats could play without pressure and they should have added to the scoreline, with Rodgers pulling off several fine saves and Stead missing another open goal from a yard out.

It made no difference as Sunderland secured just their third win of the season and first since September.

Sunderland: Davis, Hoyte, Neill Collins, Stubbs, Danny Collins, Lawrence, Whitehead (Welsh 84), Miller, Arca, Stead, Le Tallec (Murphy 78).
Subs Not Used: Nosworthy, Alnwick, Bassila.

Booked: Miller.

Goals: Neill Collins 6, Whitehead 41, Le Tallec 70.

Northwich: Rodgers, McCarthy, Payne, Charnock, Chapman (Sale 79), Mayman (Byrne 72), Carr, Elliott, Roca (Devlin 83), Allan, Brayson.
Subs Not Used: Connett, Battersby.

Booked: Brayson.

Att: 19,323.

Ref: L Mason (Lancashire).

Interview: Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy


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