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Sunderland AFC v ipswich (away)...

At times like these, and in over fifty years I’ve experienced plenty of them, I always wonder when things are going to bottom out but I can’t see it happening tonight. Ipswich have won five out of their eight games and Mick McCarthy will certainly love to make it six against his former club.

Hopefully Williams and McManaman will be back because at least they seemed to be putting a lot of effort in and maybe even Watmore might return at last. I see we’re the only side in the Championship not to keep a clean sheet and given our dozy defence, that doesn’t come as a surprise. Ipswich isn’t too far from my home and I was thinking of going to the game but I’m working late so it’ll have to be SAFSEE again. Match prediction: 2-1 to Ipswich.

When I got the team-news shortly before 7.00, I was pleased to see both McManaman and McGeady starting as they are both capable of producing effective runs. Steele was also starting in place of Ruiter. Martin Waghorn was starting for them and I wished he hadn’t been. I tuned in just before kick-off, not feeling very inspired by it all but I was pleased to hear that we were in our red and white at least. In the first minute Chambers hit Vaughan in the face with an elbow but no action was taken. We conceded two early corners and dealt with them but after five minutes a flicked header from Waghorn put them ahead, as I’d feared he might do. As he’s said several times already in his commentaries this season Gary Bennett mentioned that it was time for our players to show some character and next thing a McGeady corner was nodded in at the near post by Billy Jones to put us level. That put some pep into our play and we started attacking a lot more but Catts will really need to figure out where the net is if he wants to score as he put another of his trademark efforts halfway to the corner flag.

Waghorn forced a save out of Steele and it sounded like there’d be a few more goals in the game as both sides proceeded to create chances. Ipswich duly went ahead in the twenty-seventh minute when a Waghorn corner was nodded in by Spence from six yards out after we’d already sounded very vulnerable from set-pieces. Steele went down injured for a while after saving another goal possibility but after he’d recovered it sounded like we were on the rack and Wilson giving way plenty of free-kicks was putting more pressure on us. At the other end Vaughan had hardly had a sniff and had also slipped twice at crucial moments. Another goal for them would surely finish it so we had to hold out to the break. As the minutes ticked away, very slowly, our defence sounded in tatters and 2-1at the break wouldn’t be too bad in the circumstances. Just before the break Vaughan received his fourth yellow of the season, which we could have done without. I could have done without three minutes of stoppage-time but we held out and it remained 2-1 at the break.

We had two kick-offs for the second-half as the ref stopped proceedings and waited a short while for Mick McCarthy to emerge. Maybe Mick wasn’t going to bother coming out? Catts had a good header that goalie Bialkowski put out for a corner; his headers are better than his shots at any rate. O’Shea came on as sub for the injured Wilson after only five minutes of the half and I hoped that might fill a few holes at the back. Some hope...Waghorn made a nifty back-heel into the path of Celina and he couldn’t miss from close range as he made it 3-1. There was still plenty of time to go and it seemed likely that we’d go further behind. Me and my big mouth – McGoldrick promptly made it 4-1.

Gary Bennett said it was embarrassing and co-commentator Nick Barnes spoke for many when he wondered how long Grayson could last. Surprisingly McGeady pulled a great shot out of the bag to reduce the arrears to 4-2 and then Honeyman replaced McManaman, who’d been ineffective….well, he was in good company there. With over a quarter of the game to go I couldn’t see it staying at 4-2. Hats off to our seven hundred fans who’d made the long trip and who could be heard chanting, “Red and white army!” Ipswich made a double substitution as they took off Waghorn and Celina and the home fans applauded loudly. I wondered when our fans would next be making such a sound.

McGeady hit a free-kick on target but a deflection took it out for a corner following which Gooch appeared to be pushed over in the box. We were having a decent period of attacking actually and with about ten minutes to go another goal from us would set up an interesting finale. Of course we should have been playing like that from the start. There was a fair bit of verbal going on between Grayson and the fourth official who was having his work cut out to calm him down. In the dying minutes we gave the ball away in the middle of the field and after receiving a pass from McGoldrick, Ward ran around Steele and slotted in their fifth. Easy. There were five minutes of stoppage-time and it ended 5-2.

My God, which other ex-players of ours do we have to play soon? They must be rubbing their hands in anticipation, like everybody else.

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