Imagine you bought all the tickets in a raffle every week, and didn't win so much as a bottle of out-of-date hair gel. Well, that's us at the minute. Grayson made the changes, but after deservedly getting level, we fell to bits yet again to lose 1-2 to a City side who were nowt special - and no disrespect to them for that comment. I can't see a way out of this.
It’s always dead easy to kick a man, or a club, when he or it is down, as we Sunderland fans know only too well, as the media has relished every opportunity to stick to the boot in and have a giggle at our expense. For this reason I, and many others, have sort of held back on having as much of a go when things go wrong off the field as well as on it. However, this week has been another stonker in terms of what SAFC have been proclaiming – through the man in effective charge since Ellis has apparently shifted his main abode to Florida, Mr Bain. Look, the Fan Fest is a great idea for getting the kids involved during tatie picking week (it gives them something to do other than pick taties) but when the team is performing badly, the attendance is going to be lower than if it were doing well. That’s both logical and obvious, but the club was right to stage the event. I’ve also held back from having a personal dig at Mr Bain, as he’s run football clubs before and is thus eminently more qualified to run ours than his predecessor….BUT, if you’re going to front my club under the gaze of the local and national media, at least look like you care, and get rid of the “See me, I’m too busy running the club to get a shave” look. And, if as you say, relegation isn’t something you talk about between games, it’s high time that you DID start talking about it, as many thousands of Red and Whites are. If you don’t consider it a possibility, it’ll bite us on the arse as sure as Gary Rowell would score a penalty.
Mild rant over.
Just to keep the football thing ticking over, I watched Bishop play Blyth in a friendly (2-2, for the record) and as part of the entry, received a plastic torch with built-in whistle. As an added extra, it ranks second to Hans Blickensdorfer’s biography of Jurgen Klinsmann that attendees at a West Auckland game received a few years back. Mebbe SAFC should try some such enticement to bring the crowds back – that or winning a few games, starting today, or perhaps negotiating a few free flights on the airline just launched by Asamoah Gyan (he of the “unethical hair” and even less ethical view of loyalty). Better than wasting his money on a pet tiger, I suppose, or a bike to join the Bristol City fans who cycled the 300-odd miles to today’s game, raising money for the Bradley Lowery Foundation.
Jones O'Shea Kone Oviedo
Williams Watmore McGeady
An early shot, after cutting in from the left, was saved, as we kicked north - -as is the choice these days- against the purple Robins - with green shorts. We won a corner on the right, which O'Shea got a shot from, but it was touched over for another corner, which we did nowt with.
We played quite a bit of bright stuff, swapping from what looked like 4141 to having Williams more central, where he and Ndong provided some positive stuff.
Some great work by Ndong, digging the ball out in the left back position then working some space, was spoiled when he tried to be too precise with the ball to Grabban, which was cut out. Grabban's next involvement was to to get on the end of a lob over the top, but his lob was just the same - over the top - on 22.
Nobody stuck their head or foot out at McGeady's free from the right, and it bounced harmlessly away for a goal kick. There was a soft booking for Ndong on 26, and we put the free behind for a corner, which Steele never looked like getting close to - which he didn't, and as we had nobody on the back post, it was an easy job for their man to head it down and in. Easy as you (dis)like. It might well have been their first meaningful attack, but it's been the story of our season.
An argument over which was the Wurzel's best song led to ejections from the sizeable away contingent, then we win a corner on the right that was only partially cleared. Gibson's shot was deflected, with their keeper clawing the ball off the line, only for Ndong's effort to be handled. Nowt from the ref. Two added minutes were announced as Bristol relieved the pressure by winning a throw high up the field, which we defended well, and got the ball up on our left. McGeady scooped in a low cross, we screamed for a penalty as their defender dived on top of the ball, but it broke loose and Grabban ( now pronounced GrBAN) had the relatively simple task of turning at the back post and whacking it in from a couple of feet. Gerrrrinnnn!
That was it for the first half, and while we might have been relieved, it was no more than we deserved. We'd had no favours from the ref, who didn't follow up Ndong's yellow with similar retribution for worse offences by the visitors.
No changes for the second half, and we looked to be in when Gibson's free found O'Shea only for an offside call to spoil things. The same call at our end prevented a quick break, but we got it forward eventually, only for that to precede five minutes of head tennis as neither side could get the ball down and play with it.
As we continued to show that we lack the physical strength for this division, Watmore passed it out of play rather than to Ndong, then McGeady wiggled his way into to the box from the left but was blocked.
It was becoming increasingly obvious that we needed Watmore and McGeady in the game more, but a combination of few telling passes to them and bad decisions when they got the ball spoiled things. There was another soft booking, for Jones this time, just before tge visitors' final substitution on 65. A minute later, McManaman was on for Williams. It took a good save from Steele, then a desperate clearance from the resulting corner, to keep things level - then Bristle missed a sitter. They didn't a minute later when a cross went in from their left after McGeady lost the ball up the field. We could moan that they climbed all over O'Shea to win the header, but we shouldn't, and another back post job went in.
Gibson and Watmore made way for McNair and Vaughan with 12 to go as Grayson went for bust, broke, or breakfast - to be honest, most of the crowd were just about beyond hoping by then. Four added minutes brought only more City attacks and a Jones shot that was easily saved.
Man of the Match? Probably the crisp packets. O 'Shea had a decent first half, as did Ndong, so they can share it.
Keep the Faith? Oh, give awwa.
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