Sixer’s Darlington Soapbox: Sunderland home if not dry in five-goal romp

Pete Sixsmith gets the old Soapbox out once more
Pete Sixsmith gets the old Soapbox out once more

Pete Sixsmith, in the company of Salut! Sunderland’s deputy editor Malcom Dawson, had an enjoyable afternoon despite the rain, watching the first goals of SAFC’s pre-season programme in a 5-1 dismantling of Darlington, or rather the form Darlo now take after all the woes of recent seasons. That meant, for example, a trip to Bishop, not Darlington itself. Let Pete explain …

So, after 10 weeks
without watching a Sunderland side, it was back into action at Heritage Park, Bishop Auckland watching two Sunderland teams take on Darlington 1883.

The result was a comfortable 5-1 win with Gus Poyet turning out two different teams – one in each half, which made for some continuity rather than the constant substitutions that tends to happen in these games.

It was a pre-season game for us and a fund raiser for The Quakers to aid their efforts to return to their home town – not at Reynolds Folly but sharing with Darlington RFC at Blackwell Meadows. They should have added a five- figure sum to their collection plate as a healthy crowd turned out despite the weather.

It rained very heavily during the first half in a ground where cover was not available for the majority of the crowd and none of the Sunderland fans. But that’s part and parcel of the English summer and there was general stoicism as rain trickled down backs, made it difficult to see through spectacles and dampened many a hair style – not mine, I hasten to add.

One Jake made earlier
One Jake made earlier

* Gus Poyet on the new boys: ‘Pantilimon was very cool and calm, Jones was full of energy in that full-back position and Gomez popped up with a top quality goal.’

When the cloud was so low that Shawbrow Hill was barely visible, Mr Horan told the young couple stood next to us that this usually foreshadowed some great tragedy. The young lady looked at her male escort and said: “That means I won’t be going out with you anymore.” To his immense good fortune, the clouds lifted in time to save the putative relationship.

For the opening 45 minutes, we lined up thus; Mannone; Watmore, O’Shea, Roberge, Jones; Honeyman, Larsson, Cabral, Ba, Clayton; Fletcher.

All looked comfortable on the ball and there were murmurs of approval directed towards Max Clayton, currently on trial from Crewe Alexandra. The move put together between him and Duncan Watmore for Steven Fletcher’s second goal may just have earned him a contract.

Two up at half time, the entire team changed and we lined up Pantilimon (who is huge!!); Ferguson, Brown, Diakite, Mavrias; Giaccherini, Cattermole, Gomez, N’Diaye, Moberg Karlsson; Wickham.

Further well taken goals from Giaccherini and Wickham and a right left combination from Gomez saw us home comfortably despite an aberration from Wes Brown which allowed namesake Gary to pull one back for the Quakers.

A good start for Gus and his merry men and with Johnson, Bridcutt and Altidore to figure and (let’s hope) Borini to come in, the squad should step up its match fitness at Carlisle and Hartlepool before they head off to Portugal.

The period of silence for John Alder and Liam Sweeney was kept impeccably.

** Still want something to remember last season by? Get the ‘Wembley and Bust Safe’ mug


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1 thought on “Sixer’s Darlington Soapbox: Sunderland home if not dry in five-goal romp”

  1. OK. We can expect this kind of result against a team that is 7 Divisions below us – so what if anything can we learn from the game?

    Firstly it looks like Gus’s preferred system will be 4-1-4-1 in the up and coming campaign and secondly that Billy Jones is seriously one footed. Apart from that it was a chance to see the new boys and returning loan players in action.

    A game like this doesn’t really tell us much, but after his performance against Fulham last season, I still feel Cabral could be a useful member of the squad, now we no longer have Colback and Ki to call upon. He played in front of the back 4 yesterday but could easily interchange with Bridcutt and Cattermole.

    Roberge too, looks like a footballer with a good touch and positional sense. I have my doubts as to whether he can make it as a centre back in the Premier League. His performances there last season were not encouraging but maybe he could do a Vergini and fill in at full back. What we can be certain of is that he won’t be going anywhere until the club have some incoming defenders lined up.

    The only negative yesterday was that Gus’s “play from the back” approach could see the team give away more soft goals of the kind we saw last season. On a couple of occasions Vito’s distribution presented the Darlington forwards with the kind of chances that Van Persie, Sturridge, Remy and even Torres would snaffle up and Brown standing on the ball and rolling it backwards in his own penalty area was comical.

    But it was a good day out despite the downpour. I won’t get to Carlisle on Tuesday but should make Hartlepool where we might get a bit more insight into Gus’s plans and maybe by then there will be a bit more news on the transfer front.

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