Sunderland were beaten 1-0 away to Watford, missing out on another set of crucial points. Time is rapidly running out for David Moyes’ side, who conceded in the 59th minute to a tame Watford header. You could watch the entire original Star Wars trilogy in the time it’s been since Sunderland scored a competitive goal, and it looks like we’re going the way of the Empire. Down.
Sunderland fans could be absolved of sin for giving the trip to Watford a miss, being bottom of the table and having gone six hours of football without seeing a goal. Nevertheless, over 2,000 supporters turned up to Vicarage road, the full allocation.
With an international break to mull over our failing football club, we’d be happy just to see Jermain Defoe return unscathed and for a few of our players to be closer to full fitness. The press had talked up the potential inclusion of Cattermole and Anichebe, but neither ended up making the starting XI.
Jones, Kone, O'Shea, Denayer, Oveido,
Watford looked the more energetic side in the opening stages, but Moyes’ defensive setup proved to be efficient in preventing too much threat. M’Baye Niang was the most-dangerous-looking player for them, but with Denayer padding out the final third, no gaps could be exploited.
Pickford was called into action twice in the space of a few seconds after Niang’s shot was turned away by the young keeper, only for Doucoure to follow up with a stunning strike. The ball seemed to be nestling in the net before Jordan stuck an arm out and kept the game level.
While we had the occasional opportunity to break, our counter attacks were poorly executed and Defoe was rarely deployed to any use, his runs not matching up with attempted through balls.
It was unfortunate to see Younes Kaboul pull up with an injury before half-time, in part because his stock was high when he left Sunderland, but mainly because you would fancy Defoe to get the better of a defender with Kaboul’s pace.
Half-time arrived and neither side really deserved to be in the league. Sunderland’s performance was typical of recent times, as we looked no closer to scoring than we really have since Palace away.
There was a momentary shortness of oxygen on Wearside, as Defoe pulled up in the 46th minute with what looked to be an ankle injury. Thankfully, it was no more serious than a slight impact injury and the recent vegan convert Jermain was healthy enough to stay on the pitch.
The home side were getting closer to scoring as the ironically named Isaac Success volleyed just wide of the far post. While Watford didn’t look much better than us in the first half, you would always say a goal was coming for them as opposed to against the run of play for us. Inevitably, that’s what happened.
Goal – Watford – Britos – 59 mins
After an accurate corner, Okaka’s goal-bound header was impressively deflected onto the bar by a Borini block. In typical, comical, and gut-wrenching fashion, the flying ball was headed towards the far post into the path of Watford’s Britos, who finished from close range.
For some reason, going 1-0 down prompted a change from David Moyes, who opted to bring on NDong for Gibson, the latter barely making an impression in his 60 minutes on the field. Moyes has fell out of love with our record signing NDong, perhaps due to lack of ‘Britishness’, and it’s bizzare that he would wait until we were losing the game to introduce what many fans would consider our best fit midfielder.
Khazri entered for Januzaj shortly after; Adnan’s tame long-range effort just minutes previous to the substitution was collected calmly by Heurlho Gomes, despite Januzaj’s yards of space to get a shot off.
The introduction of NDong and Khazri definitely rattled Watford’s cage, but not as vigorously as we would have liked. At this point, the home side could justify putting men behind the ball whenever Sunderland advanced. Even when a clever cross or accurate long ball did catch the defenders off guard, there wasn’t enough urgency to make anything happen for SAFC.
A free kick was won in the last minute around 40 yards from goal, but Khazri was unable to beat the wall despite what looked an easy lofted delivery into the box. Typical of our season really, and Khazri’s, but not at all surprising.
If you made it this far in the match report, credit to you, because I imagine this was as boring to read as the game was to watch.
Haddaway and shite.
Final Score: Watford 1-0 Sunderland
Man of the Match: Yer dar
By Chris Thompson
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