HT: Sunderland (1) Birmingham City (0)

Result: SAFC 2 Birmingham 2 …

SAFC 2 Birmignham City 2: normal service resumes

A second goal early in the second half – Stephen Carr into his own net (not his day, since he committed the foul that produced the dodgy penalty) – gave 10-man Sunderland a cushion, which was just as well since we allowed Birmingham to sneak one back with 13 minutes to go, and then a late equaliser …

Darren Bent scores from a penalty that replays suggest wasn’t (edge of box), Birmingham defender lucky to escape a red all the same.

Lee Cattermole then sent off before half time for what Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett, on BBC Radio Newcastle, thought were two exceedingly soft yellows – though in fairness the BBC site’s main Saturday Live coverage was a lot less sympathetic, implying that he’d offended not twice but three times.

Not a great start, on any analysis, to Anthony Taylor’s Premier League refereeing career. But also, not a great start to our season from a disciplinary point of view, especially in the light of our disgraceful record last season (nine reds, two apiece in each of two games) and Cattermole’s promotion to skipper.

Richardson’s also on a yellow (plus subsequent warning) so we start the second half in apprehensive spirits.

This, then, was the line-up that put an end to all the guessing:

Onuoha, Richardson, Mensah, Bramble,

Malbranque, Al-Muhammadi, Cattermole (C), Henderson,

Bent, Campbell.

Our subs: Carson, Bardsley, Zenden, Da Silva, Riveros, Waghorn, Welbeck.

Add Birmingham started with Foster, Carr (C), Ridgewell, Johnson, Dann; Ferguson, Fahey, Bowyer, Larsson, O’Connor, Jerome.

Subs: Taylor, Murphy, Gardner, Madera, McFadden, Zigic, Parnaby.

Colin Randall

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