Another game against lowly opposition, another failure to show ourselves to be in a different class. Colin Randall endures last-ditch heartbreak – and a missed golden opportunity to win for a change – at Fratton Park
Sorry Niall, sorry Steve: if only you had taken the players on a pre-match inspection of the away end at Portsmouth last night: primitive toilets and catering, narrow steps and a shockingly congested exit path at the top of the stand …
It might have stopped them putting in another ultimately inadequate performance of the kind that threatens to lead us back to the Championship – where such conditions are the norm.
Sorry Niall, sorry Steve: you asked for support and understanding. What better display could you have wished for than the big, passionate, noisy turnout on a cold Tuesday evening at the opposite end of the country?
Sorry Niall, sorry Steve: but what better start could you expect to a game than to be one up and facing 10 men, those 10 men from the bottom side?
Sorry Niall, sorry Steve: no amount of huffing and puffing, and honest endeavour, can make up for the deficiencies we witnessed last night. Bleatings about unlucky injuries would be more convincing if players were not so ill-disciplined and immature as to turn a one-man advantage into a one-man disadvantage, conceding a string of needless free kicks in dangerous areas along the way.
Sorry Niall, sorry Steve: a heroic rearguard action, with desperate headed clearances and last-ditch blocks but each time the ball returning to an opposing player, is acceptable against the top four, not the bottom club.
Sorry Niall, sorry Steve: ploughing forward purposefully against limited opponents (down to 10 men), but fumbling and bumbling on reaching the penalty box, is not the way to seize a great opportunity to kill a game by half time. Nor is being outpaced at the back, and looking for all the world as if we are the team one man short when Pompey are on the attack, a good recipe for hanging on to a slender lead.
Sorry Niall, sorry Steve: but some of us are at a loss to see where the next win might be found. Last night’s squandering of two points means a team that already carries pressure badly will be under unbearable strain when we face Fulham at the SoL on Feb 28 – the small matter of Arsenal away by then behind us.
Sorry Niall, sorry Steve: scraping through the rest of the season, in the hope that other under-achievers do the job for us and keep us up again, is incompatible with the express wishes – and target for this season – of the owner. Not to mention what the fans think.
Sorry Niall, sorry Steve: but it is quite unpardonable for a Sunderland AFC team to turn out in a white strip when the home team’s colours are blue. What next – black and white stripes for the occasional home game?
Sorry Salut! Sunderland readers: for having nothing really positive to say. The sinking feeling on leaving Fratton Park last night confirmed to those experiencing it that a draw conceded in the 96th minute to relegation favourites was not so much better than a defeat.
But we started with an if only and will end with a few more. The heroic Rob Hutchison, who drove me back to London, had reverted to Glass Half Full status by the time we approached the M25. “If only Bent had put away his one to one, Jones had slid in and got to that cross at the far post or the lob had gone in, we’d be happy with a job well done. And I still think a top half finish – though a big ask – is a possibility.”