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Sunderland AFC v west BROM (a)...
LINES FROM LONDON: EXILES BLOG

It’s National Hugging Day apparently so let’s hope we see our players doing a bit of that after we get a goal or two today. I haven’t seen us win at the Hawthorns since 1977 so I reckon I’ve waited long enough but I doubt I’ll see a victory today. Big Vic may return from injury and that would be great news but without him I think we’ll struggle again. There’s still nothing definite in the transfer market but I’d be happy to see Lescott in the squad as he’s got to be more reliable than Papy. I’d forgotten about Coates and it seems we may be getting a few bob for him. I’m sure Mr Short will cast a sprat to catch a mackerel as it’s in his interest to keep us in the Premier League if he wants to sell us. I’d like to see Vito step down and Mika given a chance as Vito has gifted the opposition too many goals since he came back into the side. He was fine against Liverpool but that looks like a one-off. There are of course a number of our old boys in the Baggies squad and no doubt McClean will be on at some point. I’ve never seen any ex-player of ours receive so much vitriol from our fans and I doubt if things will have changed much today. Swansea are away to Liverpool in the 12.30 kick-off so, all being well, they’ll be defeated to set our match up nicely. I’m off to catch the train in a few minutes and there’s frost on the rooftops down here so it’s going to be a chilly day. Match prediction: West Brom 2 Sunderland 1.

It was freezing when I got off the train near the ground so after a restorative large punnet of chips I got to the Royal Oak just in time to see Llorente nod in Swansea’s second. That was definitely not what the doctor ordered. The game ended 3-2 to Swansea and that dumped us at the bottom of the table. There was a cold wind blowing through me as I left the pub for the ground. A mate texted me and said he thought we’d win. Well, we’d have to.

I got into my seat at 2.40 just as the boos for the announcement of McClean’s name were booming out. Borini was on the bench but, more importantly, so was Big Vic. Honeyman was starting and so was Rodwell (another defeat then). West Brom had all the early pressure but we won the first two corners of the game. Our passing was bad as usual but I was impressed with Honeyman as he was bustling all over and getting well involved. Rodwell tried a couple of very good passes from the centre down our left wing but they didn’t quite come off. We won two free-kicks in promising positions but as ever failed to make them count. As the half-hour mark approached Phillips did us a big favour when he accidentally blocked a goalbound header close to our line but next minute West Brom were ahead. Vito had made a fine diving save to push a Phillips attempt out for a corner and when it came over it fell to Fletcher, who had time to swivel and shoot it into the right side of our net. Six minutes later they were two-up after both Djilobodji and O’Shea had been skinned down our left side (I don’t know where PVA was) and the ball came off our bar before being smashed home by Blunt. Seb was doing his nut at someone and it looked like O’Shea to me. Our attacks were as cumbersome and slow as they usually are and we posed little threat to the West Brom goal. There was plenty of booing from our end as the half-time whistle went.     

Downstairs at the break many of our fans were chanting, “We’re going down! We’re going down! We’re going down!” and to the same tune,”We’re fucking shit! (x3)” as well as “Are you watching, Ellis Short?” Someone suggested that we give Donald Trump a go.

After we’d kicked off again the same chants were amplified upstairs together with “You’re nothing special – we lose every week.” Actually we were a lot better in the first half of the second period but the Baggies were obviously taking it easy a bit. Our fans switched to positive mode as we finally started to pressure the opposition goal. Rodwell had a decent long-distance shot that went just over and we won a free-kick in a good spot but PVA’s resultant shot went wide. In the first-half I’d been chatting to a lad next to me from the London Branch but about ten minutes into the second I realized he must have gone home at half-time. We brought Anichebe on for Januzaj around the midway point and it was a very popular switch but our goodish period was already over and the rest of the game was like watching a kickabout in Backhouse Park. As our fans drifted away it got colder and colder and you just knew defeat was inevitable. We brought on Borini for the injured Denayer about twelve minutes from the end but he didn’t inject a great deal. McClean’s arrival into the match at least aroused passions among many of our end and chants of “Fuck the IRA” broke out at intervals. We had a number of free-kicks but despite varying the tactics they were all easily dealt with and it’s the knowledge that our set-pieces will come to nothing that’s one of the depressing things about our team these days. There were five minutes of stoppage-time but I’d have settled for one. It ended 2-0. Anything good to come out of another miserable afternoon? I liked Honeyman’s performance.

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