Mavrias fires winner as Black Cats book fifth-round place.
Sunderland confirmed their place in the hat for the fifth round of the FA Cup with Budweiser by successfully dispatching non-league side Kidderminster.
The Black Cats, who had three-quarters of the overall possession, were largely comfortable throughout and had the lead as early as the fifth minute when Charis Mavrias blasted home his first goal for the club.
And the Greek’s effort proved to be the decider, with Kidderminster throwing men behind the ball in an attempt to keep the deficit at one and strike on the break.
Barring an early chance for Michael Gash and a late flurry, a much-changed Sunderland side were comfortable as they booked their spot in the next round.
Gus Poyet made his intention to make changes clear following the midweek heroics at Old Trafford and the Sunderland boss was true to his word.
Of the side which prevailed in Manchester, only Lee Cattermole started, with 10 changes made including debuts for Argentine duo Santiago Vergini and Oscar Ustari.
Other alterations included a first Sunderland start for El Hadji Ba after the young Frenchman impressed as a substitute against Carlisle in the previous round.
Seb Larsson, Ondrej Celustka, Modibo Diakite, Emmanuele Giaccherini, Jozy Altidore and Valentin Roberge also came in, as did Mavrias for his first appearance since September.
A strong start from the hosts almost saw them take the lead inside the first minute when Altidore flicked a dangerous Celustka cross goalwards only to be denied by a clearance from Jack Dyer.
But Mavrias wasted no time in making an impression as he blasted the Black Cats into the lead inside five minutes.
Josh Gowling made a mess of clearing Altidore’s flick-on, scooping the ball straight to the youngster who had no hesitation in dispatching a low shot into the far corner beyond a helpless Danny Lewis from 12 yards.
That start was exactly what the visitors, backed by a big away following, didn’t want, but debutant Ustari had to produce a key save at the other end to prevent Harriers from levelling as the 10-minute mark approached.
Giaccherini’s backward pass was too strong for Cattermole and ran straight into the path of Gash, whose shot was well blocked by Ustari before the former Getafe man dropped on the loose ball as it ran towards goal.
The chance was sufficient warning for Sunderland, who tightened their grip on the game with Larsson blasting off-target at the back post before Cattermole forced a save from Lewis with a left-footed effort from 30 yards.
Poyet’s side almost doubled their lead just before the half-hour after Mavrias pulled the ball back from the by-line for Giaccherini, whose shot though a pack of players whistled just past the post.
The visitors were toiling away and got into a couple of promising positions, but the hosts looked comfortable as Roberge, up from the back, saw a 30-yard blast strike a defender and end up on the roof of the net.
Sunderland went in a goal up at the break and looking to extend that advantage to guard against the perils of a slender lead.
Ba forced Lewis into a save two minutes into the second period, firing the ball straight at the Kidderminster keeper from just outside the box after Mavrias found his way to goal blocked.
The visitors were doing their best to frustrate Sunderland, sitting deep and mainly restricting the hosts to shots from distance, including a powerful effort from debutant Vergini which was well beaten out by Lewis.
Poyet introduced Craig Gardner and Fabio Borini off the bench in place of Giaccherini and Ba as he looked to up the ante with 24 minutes to go.
Borini was quickly in the thick of the action, firing wide from the edge of the area after a neat passing move before twisting and turning in the box only to see his shot well blocked by Mickey Demetriou.
Jack Colback replaced Cattermole on 72 minutes, with Larsson taking the captain’s armband as the hosts looked to break Harriers’ dogged resistance.
Celustka nodded Larsson’s free-kick over the bar but there was no way through for Sunderland as Kidderminster, sensing a late opportunity, launched an offensive in the closing minutes.
Left-back Danny Jackman blasted wide from distance, and hearts were in mouths two minutes from time when Gash won a flick-on to sub Frederick Ladapo, who hit his angled shot well only to see the effort flash just wide of the far post.
At the other end Borini was denied a goal only by a fine defensive block following a Sunderland counter-attack as the hosts closed the game out to secure a fifth-round berth.
- Cattermole (Colback)
- Giaccherini (Borini)
- Yellow Ba (Gardner)
- Johnson (Gittings)
- Dyer (Aloi)
- Storer Yellow
- Morgan-Smith (Ladapo) Yellow