Staying in is for wimps, at least when there’s a competitive football match to see. Pete Sixmsith took in the Under 21s, hosting Leicester City with a debut for the experience but currently unattached trialist Emmanuel Eboué. the Ivoiran right-back did OK until subbed but Sixer witnessed just the kind of result we do not want repeated tonight …
An unremarkable night at Hetton which must have had the 300 spectators, the jamboree of scouts attending and Sam Allardyce wishing that they had remained in front of the fire reading Proust or leaving through leather bound volumes of Big and Bouncy (I get it for the film reviews).
The spectators were there because they are Sunderland supporters through and through and most can’t really think of anything better to do than stand in a cold former Colliery
Welfare ground watching the latest bunch of prospects make it abundantly clear why the vast majority of them will have careers in the Football League, National League and Northern Premier League – anywhere but the Premier League.
The scouts were noticeable by their bench coats, resplendent with club badge and the notebooks, clipboards and tablets that they carried. I guess they will have been looking at Liam Agnew and Mikael Mandron for permanent deals and the likes of Rees Greenwood, George Honeyman and Thomas Robson for loans. None of them did sufficient to make cash strapped Division One clubs open their hearts and purse strings.
Sam was there to cast an eye over trialist Emmanuel Eboué who has been with the club for three weeks after his summer release for Galatasary. He has gone from the banks of the Bosphorous to the heart of the old Durham coalfield after a lengthy stay at Ashburton Grove preceded by a couple of years at Belgian club Beveren.
The 79 times capped Ivory Coast man started slowly and focused on defending in a desperately poor first half. In the second, he pushed forward and it was clear to all there that he had been a quality player and possibly still was.
He looks a far better bet than Adam Matthews, who was spared the ignominy of sitting on the bench in case the notoriously injury prone Eboué picked up a knock.
The second half was better than the first, which is a bit like saying that Mike Winters wasn’t as toe-curlingly excruciating as brother Bernie but despite having most of the play, we never really looked like scoring.
Greenwood fluffed two chances in quick succession, while Honeyman was nowhere near as impressive as he had been in the recent win over Middlesbrough.
Brady and Beadling were sound in the middle of the back four and Talbot kept himself warm in goal as Leicester offered little threat.
City looked a replica of the first team, with four big defenders moving as one and tackling effectively. The midfield was neat and tidy, with Matt Miles showing great personal courage after refusing to wince when a well hit ball from Agnew rattled him in the chest. That would have floored many. Miles, who was busy and effective throughout, nair batted an eyelid. And they scored from the spot when Thomas Robson pushed just-arrived substitute Harvey Barnes in the back and Jacob Blyth calmly dispatched the penner.
Jurgen Klopp is believed to be interested in signing him.A disappointing night although Eboue showed enough to suggest that he could be an asset in the final stages of yet another desperately worrying Premier League season.
When has it ever been anything other?
See the buildup to SAFC v Crystal Palace at https://safc.blog