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Sunderland AFC v qpr (home)...

I live close to Loftus Road and though they’ve got a solid loyal fanbase, the other day I noticed the little lad downstairs was wearing an Arsenal shirt while plenty of others round here are ‘Chelsea fans’, like it’s a bit of a fashion accessory. Q.P.R. are doing a lot better than us but you wouldn’t think so to hear them moan all the time. Was it just me or have I detected a slight whiff of optimism in the last fortnight? The fact that we haven’t played has helped but a win today would set us up nicely for taking on fellow strugglers Brentford next Saturday. At least Nedum Onuoha won’t be playing today so he can’t get a goal against us. Watmore should be starting and that’ll give us a shot in the arm and let’s hope McManaman can lash another one in. It’s our defence that’s the worrying thing of course and I’ve no idea how we’ll line up this afternoon. It’ll have to be SAFSEE again for me today but I’ll be at Brentford next week. Match prediction; (sticking my neck out a good deal) 2-1 to us.

When I saw the team news I was very pleased to see both Watmore starting and Grabban on the bench, as I’d thought we wouldn’t be seeing the latter for a while yet. O’Shea was starting too but Kone was nowhere to be seen. As soon as we could get Grabban on the better. 

We won a corner in the first minute thanks to Watmore and soon won another that Vaughan couldn’t quite connect with, again. Q.P.R. won a couple of their own within the next few minutes so the game was ebbing and flowing a lot early on. Commentators Barnes and Bennett were having trouble reading the red numbers on the backs of the blue and white Q.P.R. shirts. Honeyman had a good shot that was tipped over by Smithies for our fourth corner so we’d started brightly, though we quite often have before fading badly. Round the quarter-hour mark gaps started appearing in our defence and Sylla was sounding threatening. Watmore was making his mark and he passed to Oviedo who flicked a shot not far wide so we’d had a couple of good efforts. We were certainly racking up the corners but nobody was getting on the end of them and I reckoned Grabban would. Just after the half-hour Watmore fed McGeady but he shot just wide of the right post and another decent chance went begging. I’d just been reflecting on the number of games in which we’d failed to take chances and then gone behind when in the thirty-seventh minute Sylla headed them in front from another corner, which had been needlessly conceded by Ndong. Steele got himself blocked in and our defending again let us down. Both sides continued to give away corners and we were sounding very vulnerable from them while at the other end it seemed like we could take them all day and produce no result. Sylla nearly got a second just before the break and Gary Bennett said we were all over the place, not the first time he’s said that recently. Crystal Palace had actually scored a couple and were ahead against Chelsea so strange things can happen but we’d need a minor miracle to get back into the game. I’m sure there was a lot more than a minute’s stoppage-time but maybe the ref was just being nice…

Q.P.R. hadn’t won away since February while we hadn’t won at home for even longer so a draw would seem to have been the likeliest outcome of the game and even a draw sounded nice as I waited for us to kick off again. Their big defence had dealt easily with what we’d thrown at them and many were shouting for Williams to come on and cause them problems on the ground. I was pleased to see Grabban on for Vaughan but we needed a more effective approach than just lobbing hopeful balls into their box.

Our fans were already sounding very restless as Q.P.R. fluffed a great chance to make it 2-0 when Mackie let the ball go through his legs. Bennett said Mathews was “not at the races today” and “his confidence was shot.” Williams started warming up so it looked like he’d be on soon and he finally did about twelve minutes in when he replaced Honeyman. There was ironic applause as Matthews actually got a pass or two right and then suddenly we were level when McGeady scored after good work by Williams. The crowd were now alive and kicking and we had plenty of time left to make my pre-match prediction come true. We still had McManaman on the bench and I hoped to see him on tormenting their defence. We continued to live dangerously at the back so I was having torment of my own. Watmore got a decent ripple as he was replaced by McManaman after seventy-eight minutes and deservedly so. The game went from end to end but we made too many bad passes to create anything dangerous and despite three minutes of stoppage-time, neither side could get the winner and it ended 1-1.

Unbeaten in two games, yeah? No, I didn’t think so. See you at Brentford anyway.

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