PHIL Bardsley says Sunderland cannot adopt a defeatist attitude over the ‘reward’ for victory in tonight’s FA Cup third round replay.
Sunderland face a poisoned chalice in the fourth round of the cup, if they are able to safely navigate tonight’s Stadium of Light clash against Championship side Bolton Wanderers.
The Black Cats would host bogey team Everton, who eliminated Martin O’Neill’s men at the quarter-final stage of last year’s competition, and who boast a 19-game undefeated streak against the Wearsiders.
But Sunderland impressed in November’s defeat at Goodison Park, and full-back Bardsley stresses that the Black Cats cannot expect an easy ride if they want to fulfil their aspirations of reaching the latter stages of the cup.
“You just wonder why it’s Everton all the time! All those teams in the hat and we get picked out with them,” said Bardsley, in contention to start tonight’s game if O’Neill opts to introduce fresh legs.
“But you have to beat the best teams to stay in the competition.
“We did really well at Everton earlier in the season, and were unfortunate not to be 2-0 up.
“We had a couple of chances early doors.
“You need to take your chances against teams like that, but we played really well and hopefully we can do the same if we play them in the fourth round.”
Before Sunderland can contemplate a repeat of last season’s quarter-final though, they must secure safe passage against Bolton.
Sunderland were their own worst enemies at the Reebok Stadium 10 days ago after gifting the Trotters a two-goal lead.
Carlos Cuellar’s sloppy, inexplicable pass allowed Chung-Yong Lee to open the scoring after just 12 minutes, and then a couple of minutes after the interval, a half-cleared corner was returned for Marvin Sordell to put Bolton 2-0 up.
But O’Neill’s side, inspired by substitute Connor Wickham, who scored from the bench, showed spirit in the final half-hour to secure a 2-2 draw and remain in the competition.
Bardsley added: “We didn’t get off to the greatest of starts there.
“But it takes character to come back at somewhere like the Reebok.
“I looked on the board, and there were 33 minutes left and we were two down.
“I said to Seb (Larsson) and Vaughany (David Vaughan) that we could go on and get something because I just felt the adrenaline.
“We were putting a lot of pressure on and if we got one, we’d get back in the game.
“We did that and fortunately for us we’re still in the hat.
“Hopefully we can get through the replay.”