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Sunderland AFC v leicester (A)...
LINES FROM LONDON: EXILES BLOG

I’m sitting on the train from St Pancras on my way to the match and I can’t say I’m optimistic about our chances. Not long ago Leicester were on as bad a run as us but that’s way behind them now and while they can look forward to mid-table security and maybe more European triumphs, we’re almost certainly heading for the Championship. I don’t know if Defoe will be playing tonight so our prospects of actually getting a goal are looking even thinner than ever.

It’s seems likely that Catts and maybe Anichebe will play some part and if there was ever a time for them to win major glory by helping us stage another miraculous escape, it has to be now or never. Part of me actually wants relegation to be confirmed just so the agony will be over but while it’s still mathematically possible for us to stay up, hope continues to rear its ugly head. Pickford had a fine game on Saturday and N’Dong, who surely must start tonight, gave us some spark during his brief time on the pitch but most of the others were below par.

Watford, who are no great shakes themselves, were able to pass, trap the ball, put themselves into positions where they could receive a pass or a throw-in, move past a defender, put a shot on target etc a lot better than us and surely it’s not too much to ask highly-paid internationals to be able to possess those basic skills. It may well all be down to lack of motivation and Moyes is certainly not Mr Motivator. It’d be great to see us getting a result tonight and I’ll be giving my support till the end but I can’t see anything but a Leicester win so my match prediction is a 2-0 defeat. 

I got into Leicester early and I soon found a pub called the Barley Mow, which had a Sunderland resonance, and I startled some of the locals and myself by buying a pint of blueberry cider which was actually blue. It looked like something you pour down the bog but it got down the neck all right. I had to meet someone to pass on a spare ticket I had so it was a bit cloak and dagger before we linked up and had a pre-match pint of Singha in the ground. There was a lively chant going around of, “You can stuff your fuckin’ Walkers up your arse.” Other crisps are available. The team news wasn’t bad at all with Defoe starting as well as Catts, N’Dong and Seb while Anichebe was on the bench. I had a quick glance at the Leicester starting eleven and I wish I hadn’t as it looked a bit scary. When the teams emerged, I was very pleased to see we were in the red and white and things hotted up still more when I realized Sobs was sitting right behind me. So far, so good.

Leicester started strongly with Kone taking it off Vardy’s toe and then Okazaki shooting just wide in the second minute but then we really started having a go. I’d say that we shaded the first-half, winning six corners to Leicester’s two. We didn’t do much with the corners, it has to be said, with headers going well wide of the mark. Our best effort came from N’Dong right on the half-hour when his low shot went narrowly wide. Oviedo made a great timely tackle shortly after that when Leicester broke swiftly, as they are wont to do, and he was injured in the process but soon returned to the fray. We were getting stuck in and showing a lot of spirit while putting together some flowing moves, especially down the right flank with N’Dong, so it was a decided improvement on the first-half against Watford. Seb wasn’t making much impression at all down the left so I was hoping we’d see Khazri on for him for most of the second-half. Leicester’s best chance fell from a corner a couple of minutes before the break but Pickford was a match for it. It remained goalless as I headed downstairs for a bit of refreshment and I thought we hadn’t been too bad at all.

The second-half, though, was a different matter. Borini should’ve done better a few minutes in when he had time and space in their box but his shot was blocked. Defoe had a good shot ten minutes later but Schmeichel saved well. We were certainly creating chances and even getting a number on target. Our passing, though, was becoming as bad as it has often been of late. On the hour, Leicester made two substitutions and they were to prove crucial, bringing on Slimani and Albrighton for Gray and Okazaki, there were soon chants from our end for Anichebe as he warmed up on the far side from us. It was still goalless with about twenty minutes left and though we were going off the boil, there was still a chance we could nick a goal.

Sadly, the opposite happened when Leicester broke down the left and had plenty of time to put a cross in for Slimani to head past Pickford. Moyes brought on Khazri and Anichebe for Catts and Seb with twenty minutes left and I was pleased he hadn’t left it till later. Catts had done okay and he’d got through his comeback in one piece, receiving a good round of applause from our fans as he went off. Not long afterwards we almost went level when we hit the post and side-netting within seconds but despite the excitement, it all counted for nothing. Next minute it was all over when the very impressive Albrighton raced down the left and crossed for Vardy to smash it into the top left corner. I just wish we could get a crap goal but that was a great goal, I have to say.

The last train back to London left at 21.58 so I ‘d been keeping a close eye on the time with the station being a good hike from the ground and unfortunately I had to leave about eight minutes from the end, something I try to avoid. I asked the lad I’d passed on my spare ticket to if he could text me with whatever I missed and as I walked briskly to the station I received the following,

“A few token efforts from Leicester as they just let us play the same lost/disjointed shite as the rest of the second half. Anichebe brought the players over to our corner, apart from Borini. Keep the faith.” Cheers, Tom.

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