Tony Mowbray delivered this verdict on Sunderland's Carabao Cup exit to Crewe Alexandra
Sunderland were knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Crewe Alexandra
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Tony Mowbray said his Sunderland side weren't brave enough in possession after being knocked out of the Carabao Cup on penalties by League Two opposition.
Luke Offord's goal from a corner put Crewe Alexandra ahead at the break and though Chris Rigg levelled the scores in the second half, Pierre Ekwah's penalty miss sent Mowbray's side out in the first round.
Mowbray had heavily rotated his side from Sunday's game against Ipswich Town and they again struggle to carve out clear chances in the absence of a natural striker. It means the Black Cats have made a disappointing start to their season and though Mowbray believes the core of a good side is in place, there are obvious concerns about the depth of the squad and the lack of options up front.
"I've just said to them, they have to judge their performance levels and who they were playing against," Mowbray said.
"I think in the first half we weren't brave enough. When you get opportunity in life, you have to grab it with both hands and grasp the nettle. The messages are there everyday: look forward, run forward, pass forward. We kept going sideways and around and around and around, we didn't cut through a team playing five at the back. We just didn't have the quality to punch the ball through and hurt them in the box.
"In the second half we addressed that a little bit, and created a few more opportunities. Ultimately we're disappointed, we played against a League Two side who played with organisation and commitment. But we should have had more to win that game. We can't change the result now."
Sunderland improved in the second half thanks to the introduction of Bradley Dack, who had a solid debut.
Mowbray says he will help address the club's lack of cutting edge in time, and added that he was an example of what many of those playing needed to follow.
He said: "He looks forward and he plays forward passes, he's trying to create and that's what I'm saying to the young players: You have to that bravery and look beyond the simple, ten-yard pass. The best players play forward and Dack came and started doing that.
"His combinations with Pritchard were good... Clarke came on and eliminated players. I would have put Patrick [Roberts] on as well but he was feeling tight so it wasn't worth the risk.
"I don't like losing so I felt I had to change it [and bring on the established players]. I felt I needed to put those players on the pitch, and I felt the goals were coming towards the end. It wasn't to be, and we still didn't have enough end product really to warrant us scoring two, three, four goals. We have to be better and more creative.
"I feel the core of the team is there. We can work it around the pitch, work it out to Roberts and Clarke. We just need people who arrive in the box to score goals, getting Bradley up to speed is a positive for that."