A short trip to Darlington, a modest win to maintain our pre-season run (that’s two wins in a row, rare enough for Sunderland in recent times) and
Pete Sixsmithis purring contentedly into his ale …
Another visit to the Darlington Arena (aka as Reynolds Folly) and another win, although by no means as comfortable as last years.
After a morning spent having my feet analysed in Sacriston, the afternoon in Darlo was a pleasant way to spend time in the run up to the end of term next week. Despite the Proprietor’s insistence that I would arrive on the No 1 bus, I drove over and parked just outside of the exclusion zone around Neasham Road, forgoing the chance to visit the Old People’s Home Summer Fayre as I walked to the ground. Time enough for those when I am in one!!
The tickets said North Stand, but once again the large numbers of Sunderland fans present meant that the rarely used East Stand was opened – and we filled it!! I bumped into Messrs Dobson and McDonald, fresh from their sojourn in No 22 and The Quaker Coffee House, and we took our seats and placed them on the chairs provided, to the right of the half way line.
It was a strong line up as well. All of the first half team had substantial First Team experience apart from Trevor Carson in goal. Richardson looked smart in a central midfield role, Cattermole buzzed around and Henderson showed some decent touches on the right, while Steed burrowed away as only Steed can.
First hiccup game midway through the half when Cattermole went off to be replaced by “The Egyptian Beckham”, Ahmed Al-Muhammadi. He looked useful as well, skinning the Darlo left back on three occasions and putting over a couple of worthwhile crosses, which were not really taken advantage of.
The long grass did not help us to improve our passing game. This may well be a Darlo tactic for this season; keep it as long as possible so that other teams can’t pass the ball and are forced into lumping it. Not quite the way to improve the English game, is it?
Bent hit the bar, Campbell missed a good chance and Henderson had a good shot just over. And that was about it at half time.
The second half was full of changes. Colback came on, Jones replaced Bent and Ferdinand subbed on for Turner. Darlo missed a good chance as Mignolet missed a cross by a fair distance.
The Quakers did well and looked to have a decent shape about them. Subs came and went, including three youngsters in Liddle, Weir and Tounkara, before Zenden rattled in the winner from 15 yards to give us a deserved, if unspectacular win.
What to say about it? Well, it filled an afternoon in and we saw our first ever Egyptian player . He looked good, although he tired in the second half and he seemed to be much more animated when playing in front of the Sunderland fans, rather than on the opposite sides where the Quakers diehards were located.
Other than that, we didn’t learn a great deal. I would suggest that we were playing at 60/65 per cent capacity and that the training camp and the three games in Portugal will tighten everything up before we play Leicester in a fortnight.
Riveros and Da Silva will be back by then, Angeleri may have obtained an Italian passport and there may well be other comings and goings. No Nosworthy or Healy suggests that we will not see them again.
Wherever Nyron goes, I wish him well; he is probably the most whole hearted player I have seen at Sunderland since John Kay and has been a real credit to himself in his five years on Wearside.