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Sunderland AFC v crystal palace (h)...
sobs' blog

To be honest, and leaving aside that the ref was pretty poor, Sunderland want their collective heads knocking together for failing to win that one, having failed to even establish a two goal lead despite being briefly two ahead and then allowing a fairly moderate Palace side to win it in injury time. Horrible day at the office.

Wake up, Sunlun I think I got something to say to you
It's late September and I really should be back at school
I know I keep you amused, but I feel I'm being used
Oh, Sunlun, I couldn't have tried any more
You led me away from home
Just to save you from being alone
You stole my heart, and that's what really hurts
The morning sun, when it's in your face really shows your age
But that don't worry me none in my eyes, you're everything
I laughed at all of your jokes
My love you didn't need to coax
Oh, Sunlun, I couldn't have tried any more
You led me away from home
Just to save you from being alone
You stole my soul, and that's a pain I can do without.
Oh, Sunlun, I wish I'd never seen your face
You made a first-class fool out of me
But I'm as blind as a fool can be
You stole my heart, but I love you anyway.

Which is plainly nonsense, because, as the last line clearly states, I love Sunderland anyway. I’m way too old to change my ways now, as, apparently, are many fans a lot shorter in the tooth than me. Why else would people sacrifice several days this last week to travel to that London twice, or stay over for a few days, to take in the Spurs and QPR games? It might "only" have been QPR, but a win’s a win, and goal difference counts for nowt in cup competitions, so it was a great night. Catching up with familiar faces in the Sindercombe Social before and after the game, as nowhere else was letting Sunderland fans in, was great craic, especially when the blue SAFC number 2 shirt turned out to be genuinely John Kay’s. No bloodstains, which was a bit like being given one of Joe Bolton’s boots and finding not a single piece of a winger’s shin between the studs, but a wonderful piece of SAFC memorabilia nonetheless. My hotel, celebrations over, was clean, comfy, convenient, and relatively inexpensive, so there had to be a downside. Oh yes – the traffic on Shepherd’s Bush Green is 24 hours, non-stop, aggressive, and bloody noisy. As it was too hot to close the window, sleep had to wait until the train ride home. Reward? A midweek trip to Southampton. You stole my heart but I love you anyway.

Would Watmore retain his place in the starting eleven, after another ninety minutes of tirelessly chasing crisp packets at Loftus Road? Would Asoro, and even his twin Maja, get a place on the bench? They both showed moments of real trickery that might be what we need to surprise the opposition.
Pickford
Manquillo Kone Papy PVA
Catts Kirchoff
Pienaar Januzaj Ndong
Defoe

We kicked off to the south end, which is the way things should be, and seemed to gain the upper hand in terms of possession fairly quickly. Unfortunately, we didn't give their keeper much to do other than claim a few crosses and collect a few back passes. We had our moments, won a corner or two, but couldn't carve out a decent chance. Pienaar didn't last long, seeming to take a knock early on and struggling on for a while before lying down and admitting defeat. On came Watmore, with the shape of the team changing in the process. Ndong came more intothe middle to fill the gap left by Pienaar, Watmore and Januzaj went wide, and we sort of looked sort of decent without getting the ball to Defoe's feet, which might have caused Palace some problems.

That's how the half trundled along, with us allowing Palace the odd break that they seemed strangely reticent in accepting, and we in turn occasionally looking like we might just break through them. With about eight minutes of the half left, Palace did what we'd failed to do so far, and inexplicably lofted the ball over their own defence and onto Defoe's toe. He ran into the left of the box, and prodded the ball past the keeper with his right foot and into the right side of the net. Well that was very generous of them. We tried to build on that in the rest of the half (plus the three minutes added) but went into the break reasonably happy at the one goal lead.

No changes for the second half, and we plugged away at them in search of a second. The ref seemed intent on allowing any shoulder charge by a yellow shirt to play on, while any by a red and white shirt was an immediate free kick. He also kept his card in his pocket in the face of some extreme naughtiness by Palace - especially a certain Cabaye, who both hacked away and rolled on the floor in shocking fashion. As you'd expect, I suppose.

When we got to the hour, we had a couple of attacks that didn't quite get us through, ending with the wrong choice of pass then it pinged about their box a bit and found its way back to Defoe. No mistake, wallop from distance, 2-0.

For ten seconds, as they restarted, broke upfield and Ledley shot, with a wicked deflection sending Pickford to his left as the ball flew into the middle of the net.

Never mind, we were on the up, but for all our huffing and puffing we couldn't break their defence down, with blocks and interceptions frustrating us. Wickham came on for them and guess what? A cross from their left was met in the box with a header from McArthur that gave Pickford little chance. Level with fifteen or so to go was ridiculous, but nobody's fault but ours. Cue more huffing and puffing from us, but still little sign of us breaking them down despite getting into their box on numerous occasions and winning several corners. Anichebe, who'd been standing ready to go on for a good five minutes before he eventually rumbled onto the pitch, and McNair replaced Januzaj (frustrating is probably the best description) and Catts, with the armband eventually reaching Defoe. Ten minutes to save the world, but it didn't happen. Anichebe put his considerable weight around, to the concern of the Palace defence, and McNair got forward, but when the four added minutes were announced it was Palace who took the initiative. Manquillo, who'd been OK going forward but a bit suspect going backover, conceded a dubious free-kick near the corner flag. In it came, and Benteke nodded it in.

Such is life as a Sunderland fan. A scandalous defeat, and Moyes needs to sort out who's doing what pretty soon. We're already in the mire right up to our lugs, and a mini run in the League cup is hardly going to make up for atrocious league form.

Man of the Match? Flashes from various people, but nothing outstanding, as you'd expect, so simply for scoring twice, it has to be Defoe...

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