The tweet from LMuir89 – Liam Muir, a journalism student at Sunderland Uni – brought a wry grin.
And when a goal finally came, we hadn’t bought that one either. It came from Wigan, Mohamed Diame waltzing round Turner before hitting a terrific, unstoppable shot.
In my bunker in the south of France, Bennett and Barnes clear as bells on BBC Radio Newcastle but the internet streams as dodgy as ever, I then shared the relief of 39,000 as Gyan’s header flew in.
Second earlier, I’d detected groans as a promising free kick on the left-hand edge of the box seemed to be wasted. Henderson passed square to Colback, whose control momentarily let him down so that a shot would have been pointless and it was his backwards pass, as much to get himself out of trouble as anything else, that prompted disappointment around the stadium. Whatever was going through his mind, however, it turned out to be an intelligent enough move, the ball (from Turner?) going straight out to Malbranque on the right flank and his exceptional cross presenting a perfect opportunity for Gyan to demonstrate some aerial power and skill.
The images slowed to a standstill again after that so Gyan’s injury was in the recent past before I could see it. The rest of the goals as, strikerless, we went ahead, further ahead and further ahead still were initially heard not seen.
All the same, such moments as the equaliser make worthwhile the effort needed to find a way of watching at least part of games when you cannot be at the stadium.
Bennett and Barnes actually do a grand job and I don’t begrudge spending the relatively small sum to SAFC to have the link. But until a sensible way is found to enable people to see games they cannot attend (but may, as in my case, have paid for anyway through their season tickets), I shall offer Niall Quinn no apologies for looking around for any available link when matchday finds me abroad or, indeed, at any distance from the action.
And back to Liam, departed strikers and Sunderland’s problems up front.
We’ve probably done enough already to stay up. But we need to end with a flourish to banish the gloom of nine matches bringing just one point, and we need to finish at the very least one place higher than last season’s 13th. I’m not saying I would settle happily for 12th – we should now be aiming to attain the owner Ellis Short’s top 10 target – but Mick Quinn had a point, in his “Who are You?” before the Newcastle game, in saying any imporvement on last season would be a mark of progress (not that he, as a Mag-friendly, Scouse Mackemophobe, necessarily has our best interests at heart).
The Villa v Stoke game appears to have included all of two moments of Premier-level class, the headed finishes by Bent and Jones. They had The Guardian’s man in raptures:
Bent’s goal “was the highlight of a forgettable match, at least in terms of quality. As McAllister (Gary, the well-known diving champion, now Gérard Houllier’s No 2 – ed), pointed out, it is impossible to teach the instinctive ability Bent demonstrated in getting in front of Ryan Shawcross to meet Kyle Walker’s cross and then, from a difficult angle close to the edge of the penalty area, guiding a header beyond Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic
… Bent’s goal came after another powerful and technically gifted striker, Kenwyne Jones, had put Stoke ahead with a header direct from a Rory Delap long throw. “Forwards go up and down, even the top strikers like Wayne Rooney, they’re all the same, but the thing with Kenwyne is he has good quality, and you know eventually that will come through,” said City manager Tony Pulis …
It can hardly fail to irritate when men we’ve let go are scoring and we cannot, for 50-odd minutes against a modest Wigan Athletic side, find a goal from anywhere.
Naturally, the hope is that the midfield continues to relish the freedom to run at the opposition as happened for a 20-minute spell in the second half, and makes the lack of senior frontmen count less, or that young Noble or Knott come in and step forward to show us what they are capable of.
But these are short-term fixes if we are to make our lofty ambitions seems plausible.
Come the post-season inquest Quinn has promised, there is a crying need 1) to get to the root of our disproportionate susceptibility to injuries and 2) ensure that never again do we allow proven strikers to leave the club unless proper replacement is not just a hope but a certainty.