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Sunderland AFC v ipswich (away)...
match report

Sunderland lost 5-2 away at Ipswich in a game where our defensive frailties were exposed by Martyn Waghorn to heap further misery on the travelling fans. But for a lovely strike from Aiden McGeady there was nothing worth celebrating tonight, and those who made the 500-mile round trip will be left wondering why they bothered. Standard.

After a cruel but typical defeat against Cardiff at the weekend, Sunderland would be looking to at least take a point away from home to clamber out of the relegation places.

Jones Wilson Kone Matthews
Cattermole Gibson
McManaman McGeady Oviedo

While the logical formation with that group of players, especially given the shape in recent weeks, is a 5-3-1-1, Sunderland actually began the game with a flat back 4, Gibson and Cattermole carrying the water, with McManaman, McGeady, and Oviedo creating chances and Vaughan up front.

McGeady looked to be playing a free role, which is unconventional given his obvious wide attributes, but also logical in the sense that he is probably the most talented of the bunch and can probably offer more in the centre than anyone else could.

Sunderland again fell 1-0 down early on, with another ex-player getting his name on the scoresheet. Martyn Waghorn was there to nod in a pin-point cross after getting in front of Kone. We have an awful habit of conceding in the opening stages, and our record after going behind is shocking. Having said that…

Sunderland replied with a goal to make it 1-1 just three minutes later, Billy Jones converting a pacey Aiden McGeady corner with a thunderous header at the front post. McGeady’s set piece delivery is a far sight better than what we have seen in recent weeks, and given his influence early in the season I am thrilled to see him back.

McGeady’s change of pace makes him a constant threat in the wide areas. His searching cross was intended for the head of James Vaughan but the striker wasn’t well positioned. McManaman gathered and laid off to Cattermole, but Lee Barry couldn’t find the target from distance.

Waghorn was the danger man for Ipswich, commanding the wide areas and generally getting the better of Adam Matthews. A corner delivery saw Cattermole stretching to claw it off the line, before Steele was called into action and pulled off an excellent stop to prevent a headed goal from McGoldrick.

Inevitably our inability to stop the ball coming into the box resulted in a goal. Waghorn was showing the pace and ability that he has presumably learned since leaving Sunderland, firing a lovely cross into the mix that found Jordan Spence. The Ipswich man was in space, either due to a clever run or incompetent defending (take an educated guess) and the ball was headed into the top corner to make it 2-1 to Ipswich.

Steele was forced to put his body on the line after a slack Marc Wilson clearance was picked up by Martyn Waghorn. The touch was sloppy and Steele saw an opportunity to charge out and smother the ball; in doing so he took a nasty knock diving at the feet of Waghorn, but a fantastic show of bravery to prevent what would have certainly been a third goal for the home side. Steele recovered to carry on.

McManaman’s strike across goal forced Ipswich’s Bialkowski into a lovely save low to his left. Cattermole slid the ball over with McManaman is seemingly plenty of space to take his shot. The strike was good, but not good enough to draw the game level.

Sunderland continued to struggle in the wide areas. Ipswich’s style of play was causing serious discomfort for our full backs, who have split their time between playing a back 5 and a back 4 in recent games, which could attribute to their confusion. Some would argue playing with a back 5 makes more sense on the road, where counter attacks are the name of the game, but Grayson chose to go with a back 4 today. During the first half it didn’t work at all.

Ipswich emerged for the second half looking just as dominant. O’Shea began to warm up not four minutes after play restarted, which I initially assumed was a tactical sub but then saw Marc Wilson in a heap near the centre circle. The substitution was made, but was followed by more unpleasantness.

Ipswich netted their third after a clever back heel from Waghorn (you guessed it) set up Celina for an easy finish from close range. Just 5 minutes later the home side made it 4-1 when another Waghorn cross was turned in, again by McGoldrick who had his first shot saved by Steele but converted the follow-up.

Sunderland looked beaten and it was starting to get embarrassing, but Aiden McGeady at least gave the travelling fans something to remember with a stunning strike from range. A cheeky step-over won him a few yards of space and he took full advantage, curling his shot around the keeper to make it 4-2.

McGeady went very close with a free kick but the faintest of blocks by the ball sent it over for a corner. Said corner resulted in a penalty shout after some pushing and shoving, but the ref was having none of it despite the appeals from Sunderland players.

The game drew to an agonising close, with the only excitement coming in the form of another Ipswich goal to make it 5-2. McGeady lost the ball on the halfway line after trying a Cruyff turn and being dispossessed. Daft bastard. Grant Ward found himself one-on-one with Jason Steele and rounded the keeper before slotting home.

Embarrassing. No more match report required.

Final score: Ipswich 5-2 Sunderland

ALS Man of the Match: The travelling fans who travelled 500 miles and took two days off work.

Chris Thompson

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