Malcolm Dawson writes………I am otherwise engaged in the wilds of West Lancashire this week, or I would have made it last night to bulk up the crowd and get another loyalty point on my season card. I’m betting there’ll be more than 7,800 Sunderland followers looking for Wembley tickets, should last night prove to be the beginning of a great adventure and we make it all the way to the final. (I’m not making any assumptions here – Lou Reed fans will understand.)
Still I should be able to get to Morecambe for the next, most likely irrelevant, instalment as it looks like we could be through to the next round anyway. But I’m sure Jack Ross will take nothing for granted and will do his best to ensure we can get a victory, whilst giving some of our fringe players valuable game time.
With the number of injuries and suspensions we’ve had many of those we may currently class as fringe players, could actually soon become more valuable squad members.
Pete Sixsmith of course was there and after Bradford on Saturday and the U23s at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground on Monday it was three Sunderland wins in four days for our man on the spot. Here’s his report of last night’s Checkatrade Trophy run out.
Lou Reed would have loved Tuesday October 9th. The wizened (and dead) U.S rocker and iconoclast was not noted for his love of football and he was rarely seen on the terraces at Roker Park and even less so in the expensive seats at The Stadium of Light, but he did know a perfect day when he saw one. Yesterday I had one.
The papers arrived on time so work was over by 7.30. After breakfast, I caught the bus to Darlington and thence on to Richmond, where I took a leisurely stroll along the banks of the babbling River Swale, so beloved by that other musical icon, Jake Thackeray and then back along the old railway line to the Station Cinema and Arts Centre.
After a rather good Americano and a cheese scone I then entered the cinema and watched “The Wife” which I thought might have been a remake of the Thora Hird/ Freddie Frinton classic “Meet The Wife” but turned out to be a story about a Nobel Prize winning author played by Jonathan Pryce and the woman behind his success, played by the superb Glenn Close, who does not have to boil a bunny to show how good an actor she is.
The day was concluded with a comfortable 3-1 win over Carlisle United in the EFL Trophy which virtually guaranteed our place in the knock out stages of this much maligned but extremely useful competition, one which allows clubs with large squads to give all their players a game that has at least a twinge of competitiveness about it and also gives us an opportunity to go where we have never been before e.g. The Globe Arena, Morecambe on November 20th.
Much was made of the lack of 14 first team players but such is the depth and strength of the current squad that the only first time starter was Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka, the young Swedish forward who joined at the same time as Joel Asoro and Oscar Krusnell, both now former Sunderland players.
He is as raw as they come, but he has done well in a struggling Under 23 team and came on last Tuesday against Peterborough, almost scoring in the last minute. Had he done so it may well have led to the spontaneous combustion of Steve Evans and the eternal thanks of all sensible football followers.
It took him three minutes to score here when the impressive Aiden McGeady set him up with a perfect cross and he planted a firm header beyond Adam Collin and into the Cumbrians’ net. Being Sunderland, we allowed a well taken equaliser from Ashley Nadesan after Jack Baldwin lost him completely.
But we bounced back in some style as Ethan Robson scored a very good goal in the 36th minute, rifling home a shot from the edge of the box and we went into the break a goal ahead, although we lost Robson to a knock and saw Luke O’Nien replace him.
The former Wycombe player has been a bit of a forgotten man so far. He was clearly brought in to replace Lee Cattermole when it looked as if he would be leaving but as Cattermole cemented his place and Max Power was signed, O’Nien has been squeezed out. Injuries and illness have affected him but it was good to see him back and he looks a useful player to have in the squad.
As does Dylan McGeouch who impresses me as a real fetch and carry man. He is always there to help out in defence and to move the ball on and as the season progresses, he will prove to be a very important player for us, slowing the game down when we need to re-establish control and moving us forward when that is required.
There were no weak links in this team. After the blip in the first half, Baldwin worked well with Ozturk while Matthews got forward at every opportunity and has established a good link with Maguire. It was the full back’s splendid pass that rounded off a long sequence of them and it allowed Honeyman to put the game to bed in the 62nd minute.
Other chances were spurned. Kimpioka had another strong header turned away by Collin and some of the shooting would not have looked out of place in the RL Grand Final on Saturday, but we saw the game out and gave brief cameos to two of our other academy products in Jack Diamond (12 minutes) and Lee Connelly (5 minutes). Both did enough to book their places for Morecambe next month.
I sat in the front row for this one which was good because;
1). I could stretch my legs out.
2). I could hear the players – Maguire swears a bit.
3). I noted that few of ours are tattooed as if they were Maoris – Maguire is.
4). I realised how small Reece James is and how solid Adam Matthews is.
5). I had a perfect view of Ethan Robson’s goal.
In fact, even though I didn’t drink Sangria in the park or feed animals in the zoo, it was just a perfect day and I got free bus travel, reduced prices at the cinema and the match.
There are benefits to getting older…..