SAFC (1) 2 Birmingham City (0) 2: normal service resumes

darren bent

Two up early in the second half, but with only 10 men, Sunderland were forced onto the back foot and had to make do with a point after Birmingham fought their way back …

Normal service is Darren Bent getting on the scoresheet.

Unfortunately, it is also Sunderland players falling foul of the referee, to the extent that Lee Cattermole was sent off for his second yellow a few minutes before half time.

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, could easily have been sent off later and was finally subbed to ensure he didn’t eventually see red, too) – gave Sunderland a cushion as we began an inevitably nervy second half.

Which was just as well as we then allowed Birmingham back into the game to grab two goals from Dann and Ridgewell and leave us having to settle, with no real room for complaint if reports from the Stadium of Light can be trusted, for the draw.

Not a great start, on any analysis, to Anthony Taylor’s Premier League refereeing career.

Bent scored from a penalty that replays suggested wasn’t (edge of box), though Stephen Carr seemed – from radio reports: my new internet stream let me down – lucky to escape a red for the challenge all the same.

Cattermole was sent off for what Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett, on BBC Radio Newcastle, thought were two exceedingly soft yellows. 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. Our own Pete Sixsmith was also highly critical of Cattermole after the game.

Yet Taylor went on to get many other things wrong, if the admittedly partisan(ish) commentary had it right. Carr could have gone before he was taken off. Jerome “took out” Richardson but was given a throw-in not long after Richardson himself might have been dismissed for yet another foul.

So not a great start either, then, to our season from a disciplinary point of view, especially in the light of our disgraceful record last season (nine reds, two coming in each of two games) and Cattermole’s promotion to skipper.

As City got back into the game, the surrender of our two-goal lead came as no big surprise.

Welbeck, Riveros and Waghorn all made substitute appearances, but we never sounded like regaining the ascendancy once the Blues were back in the game and Gary Bennett and Nick Barnes thought a draw was fair.

Come back over the next couple of days for Mr Sixsmith’s seven-word snap judgement (any minute now) followed by his more reflective look at what appears, on a day when Blackpool soared to the top of the Premier, a disappointing start to Sunderland’s season.

Colin Randall

9 thoughts on “SAFC (1) 2 Birmingham City (0) 2: normal service resumes”

  1. Not the best match for either sides captains.
    Bit disappointed that A Taylor decided to completely ignore his linesmans flag but you imagine that would only have delated the inevitable.

    Bent scores. We can’t keep 10 men on the pitch. We can’t defend set pieces. We can’t hold on to leads. Same story already and it’s only been one game.

  2. I think you’ll be OK too Kevin. From our perspective we were all looking to see how the new boys would gel and I think they showed a lot of promise although Wellbeck didn’t get much in the way of opportunity. If I were a Brummie I would have been disppointed that Blues didn’t create a decent chance in the first hour, but happy to have fought back and come away with a point.
    As for where we’ll finish. I see Wolves, Blackpool, West Brom, Bolton, The Mags, Blackburn, Wigan and West Ham scrapping away at the bottom, though I think the Mags will avoid the drop. Chelsea, Man Ure, Man Citeeh, Spurs, Liverpool, Arsenal and Villa will probably finish above us. That leaves SAFC, BCFC, Everton, Fulham and Stoke filling places 8 – 12. I’d like to think Sunderland will finish above Stoke and Fulham and I feel your lot probably will too. I’ll predict 9th and 10th. Now I’m just off to compose my piece for “Old Bobby Moore’s Almanac.”! 🙂

  3. Thank you for your comment Tony, I always try to give a balanced approach to games as I’m sure Colin would agree. On Joys and Sorrows I feel that respect should be shown to the opposition whether they deserve what they got or not because that’s what I like to see of us.

    I can see your point Malcolm, but this was only the 1st game and the new players are still settling in. Gardner finished last season strongly in the middle, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets converted into a defender at Carr’s expense. We will be a lot more secure then.

    As for going forward, I believe Zigic will be brilliant this season, but he is a couple of weeks behind the rest of the side fitness wise because of the world cup.

    I agree there are issues that need to be dealt with, we absolutely must get an attacking midfielder in and we definitely need another striker. Another defender would be useful too. However I saw enough in the last 15 minutes to believe that we will be alright this season.

    As for the finish regarding the table – I think I said in the preview I did for Colin that I believe we will finish mid table. That would do me fine, and if you guys finish above us – no problem to me. 🙂


  4. Were I a Blues supporter I would be more concerned than I am as a Sunderland fan. Up until the sending off and for another 25 minutes after half time we bossed the game. Mignolet only had one shot to save up until that point. Sunderland on the other hand were passing the ball well, Richardson was moving well up field, linking with Malbranque, the back 4 was looking good. I was encouraged by the debutants and despite the fact that Bramble’s attempted backheader led to the Blues’ first goal, he looked solid and seemed to have developed a good understanding with Mensah already. We played football and were creating chances. I’ll reserve my judgement on the young keeper who needs to improve his communication skills and command his box more. Al Muhamadi put in a good shift, Riveros was composed and looks the part. Onohua was solid and got forward. On this evidence he will give us qualities that Bardsley can’t.

    Cattermole’s challenges were stupid. The first yellow was soft, the second deserved but both were in an area of the park were they weren’t needed. Of course he needs to impose himself on the game but until he saw red he had been commanding the midfield.

    As for Birmingham. Kevin is right. The subs made a difference. Zigic is a mountain of a man who made John Mensah seem average sized! But by then we were tiring. Credit to Bruce for continuing with two up front but all the harrying from the midfield three meant we were defending deeper and deeper as time went on. Fatigue played its part. In the end Birmingham’s 11 just about deserved their point and would have won if they had had another 10 minutes or so. But overall I think they have more concerns than ourselves, if yesterday’s performance is a true reflection of two teams who will probably finish in the second quarter of the table come May.

  5. After 65 minutes there only looked like there being one winner, however Gardner and Zigic coming on totally changed us as a side.

    I’m sure that the sending off affected things, but remember you did go 2-0 up with 10 men. The last 15 minutes we were the better side, and had a couple of chances to win it – although that would have been robbery! lol

    If we had started with the side we finished with, we would have been better balanced and I hope that McLeish does that against Blackburn.

    I’m happy to leave the Stadium of Light with a point though, and I don’t see anything with Sunderland to suggest you’ll be in a relegation fight this season.


  6. Meanwhile (not that anyone here really cares), what a cracking start for Blackpool! I repeat, they’ll bear watching this season. They’ll play the way Ghana did in the World Cup — hell for leather and nothing to lose.

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