Port Vale have been drawn at home to Sunderland in the Emirates FA Cup First Round which takes place on the weekend of Saturday 10th November. Here is a closer look at our opponents...
Who are they?
Founded in 1879, Sunderland have a rich history and they have lifted the FA Cup on two occasions, beating Preston North End in 1937 and Leeds United in 1973. In the past 100 years, the Black Cats have spent 86 seasons in the top flight of English football.
However, following back-to-back relegations in the last two years, Sunderland are now playing their football in Sky Bet League One, but they will be eyeing an immediate return to the second tier under their new manager, Jack Ross.
They currently sit in 3rd place in the division, only one point away from an automatic promotion spot. The club has won the top flight title on six occasions (1892, 1893, 1895, 1902, 1913 and 1936) and their supporters will be expecting the tide to turn sooner rather than later after the disappointment of the last two years.
With most of their recent history spent in the Premier League and the second tier, Sunderland haven't entered the FA Cup at this stage for over three decades. To find the time when they last failed to go beyond Round One, you have to go back to the 1923/24 season when they lost 2-1 to Oldham Athletic.
After Sunderland's relegation to League One was confirmed in April 2018, Chris Coleman was releived of his duties and Jack Ross was appointed as his successor a month later. Despite the 42-year-old's lack of managerial experience, he has guided them to a positive start to the new campaign.
Having represented the likes of Falkirk and St. Mirren during his playing days, Ross began his coaching career back in 2011 when he joined Dumbarton as Assistant Manager. His first break in management came in 2015 when he took the reigns at Alloa Athletic, but he was unable to stop them suffering relegation to Scottish League One.
The following season started well and he led the club to a 10-game winning streak before leaving for St. Mirren in October 2016. He then oversaw the Saints' title-winning Scottish Championship in the 2017/18 campaign, resulting in promotion to the top flight. Sunderland then came calling.
Ones To Watch
With over 200 appearances in Sunderland colours to his name, the combative midfielder is a recognised figure in Tyne and Wear. At the end of the 2018/19 season, the 30-year-old will have spent 10 successive seasons at the Stadium of Light.
Another player with recent Premier League experience at Everton, the Costa-Rican defender is a big name in League One. He has also been a regular for his national side, and he was named in their squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
After making his professional debut for the Black Cats during an EFL Cup victory over Queens Park Rangers in September 2016, Maja has had to be patient for a consistent run in the team. Now a regular in the starting line-up, the young striker has repaid the faith shown in him by scoring nine goals in 15 appearances so far this season.
We have met before...
Vale and Sunderland have only faced each other on 20 occasions, but five of those meetings have come in the FA Cup. Despite the Valiants falling to a 3-0 defeat in the 1992 cup tie, they came out on top after forcing a replay in both the 1935/36 and 1961/62 campaigns. Both of those replay victories were on home soil too, perhaps a good omen ahead of this fixture.