Authored by Colin Makepeace, a veteran fan attending games for 46 years
Sunderland travelled to Accrington yesterday after a run of 2 games which saw very different performances, giving away a late goal to Wycombe last Saturday after playing some lovely football on the day to draw 3-3, then a horror show v Lincoln at home on Tuesday night losing 3-1 while playing the poorest we have in a long time what would we produce after such chalk and cheese performances!!
With the team news seeing the return of Wright, Hoffmann and Dajaku in for the suspended Winchester, young goalkeeper Patterson and Diamond back on the bench the signs were encouraging for a win.
But Accrington do what they do very well and in the 1st half we found it hard to get our passing game going as they went long and direct to the big lads they have and closed us down well in midfield. We had the first chance though with a nice move down the left after we won the ball in midfield found Gooch, he beat his man well and delivered a great cross for Ross Stewart who’s downward header bounced into the ground and up towards the top corner, but a great spring form Accrington`s keeper who dove full length to palm the ball around the post and away for a corner.
Accrington then came back at us putting a long ball up towards the area winning the first header and getting on the second ball to fire a looping effort towards our goal only to see Hoffman back pedal to stretch and turn the ball over for a corner. The game was made very scrappy throughout the half and we found it difficult to get a hold of the game with Pritchard struggling with injury and Embleton not seeing much of the ball the half ending goalless.
A change at half time saw O`Brien on for the injured Pritchard and it seemed to give us a lift at the start of the half. We started to get more on the front foot and pin Accrington back, then on 48 mins Doyle picked up the ball just inside our half and drove forward with it, he slipped it into O’Brien just outside the box and he let fly with a right footed drive that got a wicked deflection that looped the ball over the keeper and into the top corner of the net to put the lads 1-0 up, with O`Brien celebrating the birth of his new baby with the fans behind the gaol going mental!! But we still couldn’t manage to kill off Accrington and they came back at us having a couple of half chances but nothing to trouble our goal of note.
Then in the 76th min Stewart turned smartly before being hauled down by Sykes and the big centre back was shown his 2nd yellow n red card putting them down to 10 men for the last 15min. Surely now we would go on to win the game but although we kept knocking on the door, we couldn’t find the killer goal. Then in the 84th min came the sucker punch. From our short corner their keeper grabbed the ball and launched a long kick forward. Flannagan missed his clearance on half way and they were in on goal, their striker squaring the ball to right back Clark to slot into the empty net for 1-1. We couldn`t find a response in the closing stages and again we found ourselves dropping vital points from winning positions against 10 men for the third time this season.
Summing up I feel that over the last 3 games we`ve just began to run on empty with injuries and covid having a big effect on team selection and leaving the bench very threadbare. Having said that we could and should have won the last 2 away games and having 4 more points would have put us in a great position at the top of the league. You cannot allow for the basic errors from individual players that have seen us give far too many goals away of late. But we`re still in a great position 2nd in the table so it`s up to us to see the job though. With a number of players returning to the squad and hopefully we see the owner back LJ with a few new faces to help us along the way we must maintain our form and hold our nerve. Depending who`s glasses you wear it`s 1 defeat in 13 games or 0 wins in 3 making the Portsmouth game on Saturday another big game for us.
Over the next couple of weeks we shall see just how much our owners want us to succeed, this is the time to sign some players to bolster the squad. A ball winning midfielder that will allow our creative players to play is a must along with a big centre half and a striker to cover for Broadhead and Stewart if needed. The LJ out brigade will be sharpening their knives again this week but we must stick with him now and see this job though to May!