The home hoodoo/curse/just being rubbish continued as we failed yet again to even be in the lead on Wearside in 2017. 1-1 against a desperately average QPR side was the latest instalment in the Great Big Book Of Sunderland Let-Downs.
International breaks always seem to come at the wrong time for Sunderland – either because we’ve just put in a half-decent showing (a la Preston) and want to keep going, or because we’ve been awful (most other occasions recently) and need to get it out of our system. In reality, this one has been quite opportune, as it’s allowed Watmore to have a nice lie down after his bruising comeback, and for McNair to put in a good performance against Hertha Berlin in yet another competition most of us had never heard of. By all accounts, QPR have been pretty mediocre of late, so our dismal home record.......ah, no, don’t tempt fate man! The last fortnight has been filled with further calls for Short to sell up, which is exactly what he’s trying to do even if it doesn’t look much like it, and the media telling us that our three biggest assets will probably be sold in January. Replace the word “assets” with “earners” and you’re closer to the truth, although any manager worth his salt would only offer a fee for one of those players, Ndong. Rodwell can’t seem to get his playing back on track, and Kone’s attitude would put anybody off. On a slightly lighter note, Pascal Chimbonda has done a Hooolio and gone all Northern League, joining Washington. Once described by my mate as “French knickers compared to Bardsley’s functional Marks and Spencer pants” he can’t, at the age of 38, have many miles left on the clock even at Northern League level, but it’ll be fun to see how things go.
Our ride through, despite being stuck behind a tractor for a good few miles (bloody farming mags) was swift, mainly because there was nobody about. No traffic, no people, nowt. Nobody in the town. There were more folks in the Isis than walking over the bridge, and no crowds past the burger vans. No air of expectancy.
Matthews Jones O'Shea Oviedo
Kicking north, in an attempt to change our luck, and with the Bradley flag back to front as if to show we can get bugger -all right at the minute, Watmore won a corner on the left within 30 seconds. Another on the right was eventually cleared after their keeper took the ball at the back post. Catts headed corner away. McGeady had a corner cleared as midfield was bypassed by both teams, resulting in another corner to QPR. McGeady took a free, after being fouled out on the left, which eventually fell to Honeyman whose volley was as well saved as it was well struck. Steele was forced into a decent save with a shot from distance, resulting in two corners in quick succession. Oviedo shot from 30 yards only just wide of keeper's left post on 17.
On the half hour, a great ball played in McGeady thundering down the inside right channel - but he placed the shot outside the near post when the least he should have done was hit the target. There was a break in play soon after when a succession of fouls eventually forced the ref to stop things, and Grayson presumably took the opportunity to tell Vaughan that clattering his marker and ending up on the deck was getting us nowhere. QPR won a corner on our left, and their man rose virtually unchallenged right in the centre to nod home from a couple of yards. Here we go again.
As the half, and the single added minute, ticked away, QPR missed an easy chance and we provided a comedy moment as Steele hit a clearance, admittedly from a poor back pass, into an opponent, then having to dive to collect the header back to him. Pfft.
0-1 at the break, and while QPR had hardly outplayed us, we can't really complain ( which is a shame, 'cos we're bloody good at it). Vaughan bouncing of the centre half but Watmore too far away to pick up the loose ball, and a really quiet 45 from Ndong in terms of movement, plus the depth and ability of our squad being highlighted by Billy at centre half.
Grabban was on for Vaughan for the second half, meaning that we'd probably not win a header up front before tea-time. QPR broke down our left and somehow failed to put away the cross, then did it again but this time Steele had no problem when they got the shot in. Grabban got in a shot at the near post when we moved down the right, forcing a decent save, but we did nowt with the corner.
On 57, Williams came on for Honeyman, which was no surprise as he'd been one of our better performers, certainly in midfield.
There was more comedy as Steele's free kick went straight out of play, but he atoned with a good save, then McGeady blasted in his fourth beaut of the season, beating the keeper low at the near post with a shot from the left.
Well, half an hour to win it, but Oviedo's ball over the top was a yard too far for Watmore, then Steele did well as the visitors looked likely to score as the ball pinged around our box. Ndong came to life, helping McGeady test the keeper then getting in a cross from the right - we were winning corners, but still can't get used to the fact that we now get them to the back post, and consequently wasted most of them.
On 78, McManaman replaced the tiring Watmore and we immediately conceded a free 20 yards out, which QPR calmly planted way over the top. There was no yellow for a rugby tackle on McManaman, and the free from the right corner of the box caused the visitors problems, but not enough problems. McGeady moved to the right, and Matthews set him away with a clever flick, but the cross was delayed and the chance to create something gone. Grabban steadfastly refused to jump, making the job of the visiting defence pretty easy when the ball was in the air, and we couldn't get enough passes to his feet in the box.
Three added minutes were announced as Williams was hurt clearing a attack, but he was back on his feet. A couple of free kicks slung forward caused the visitors no real problems, then it was all over. Another rotten result.
Man of the Match? Well, as he got us out of jail, or more realistically got us a cushy job in the kitchen, McGeady. Let's face it, you don't need to do much to be Sunderland's best player.
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