Steve Bruce bemoans lack of firepower after Carling Cup exit

STEVE Bruce bemoaned Sunderland’s failure to convert their chances after unbeaten npower Championship hosts Brighton claimed a 1-0 extra-time in the second round of the Carling Cup.

Craig Mackail-Smith’s header five minutes into extra time landed the latest blow on Bruce’s new-look Premier League team.

Yet Bruce, whose side lost against bitter local rivals Newcastle just four days earlier, blamed his misfiring front men for this latest flop.

He said: “We created enough chances to win the cup-tie but we failed to do that because of our inability, once more, to put away chances

“We’ve got punished for it and it’s worrying. We certainly had enough strikers on the pitch but we just didn’t convert our chances. We’ve got to learn to do that.”

Benin star Stephane Sessegnon missed an early opportunity and Craig Gardner, Sebastian Larsson and David Vaughan all failed to test keeper Casper Ankergren from promising positions.

It was only in the later stages of the 90 minutes and then extra time when the Dane had to make outstanding saves from Sessegnon and Gardner.

Bruce refused to blame defeat on the fact his side are still gelling together after a host of summer signings and six notable departures including Danny Welbeck and Jordan Henderson.

He said: “Over the next few weeks these new signings are going to find out what its like playing for this club and in front of our fans.

“We lost four loan players in the summer as well as Jordan and (Bolo) Zenden, but the fact remains that we came back after losing a derby game and went out there with the right spirit.

“All that is no good, though, if you can’t take the chances you create. Its a big concern.

But you’ve got to give Brighton credit. They have some very good players and you can see why they’ve started the season so well.”

SEE Wednesday’s Mail for full story.