The Chapman Report from Peterborough: alarm bells or just a wake up call?

Jake goes all monochrome on a grey day

Malcolm Dawson writes…..with Pete Sixsmith having set himself a southern limit of Lincoln City for away days this season, Bob Chapman steps off the subs’ bench for his take on yesterday’s events. His full time 7 word summary said not a single positive from this shocker.  I have to say I thought we started the game the stronger and until the second goal went in I thought we were still in with a chance, though clear cut chances were few and far between. McNulty looked lively and perhaps might have done better on a couple of occasions but in the end we were well beaten. 

I was going to say well and truly beaten but although it was daft and undisciplined of O’Nien to raise his hands, for Ivan Toney to go to ground clutching his head was scandalous. It may be that the ref would have sent O’Nien off anyway but his shove on Toney’s chest was no worse than much of the pushing and shoving that goes on in midfield when players challenge for a goalkeeper’s clearance.

That’s not sour grapes or an excuse on my part as we were heading for defeat anyway but if video evidence can be used in an appeal then surely it’s not too much to ask that the footballing authorities look at that and similar incidents and think about issuing retrospective punishments to players who they deem have reacted in an unfair manner. It’s a form of simulation after all.

Whilst I am desperately seeking positives I can’t argue that they weren’t heavily outweighed by the negatives, but remember that had we lost 9 of our drawn games last season and won 9 others we would have had 9 more points. That’s a trade I’ll happily make this year but for now, let’s see what Bob thought of our first defeat of the season.

Jake’s view of the subs’ bench


My first contact with Peterborough United came in 1967, when Bedford Town of the Southern League played them in a 3rd Round F A Cup tie. At that time growing up in Bedford, watching Sunderland was always a treat and invariably involved a visit to London. Consequently it usually resulted in a defeat and disappointment. Although there was the odd away win or draw I got used to severe thrashings at a very young age!

Yes, I was at Upton Park when Geoff Hurst scored 6 in that famous 8-0 defeat. I saw the great Jimmy Greaves score 4 in a 5-1 defeat at Spurs and I even managed and still have Colin Suggett’s autograph before another 3-0 demolition at Spurs. Visits to Roker Park were always at the start of the season when we were visiting relations during the summer holiday.

Yet despite all the drubbings and being 230 miles away, Sunderland was my team. My second team was Bedford Town of course. Before I started playing regularly at 14 I would frequently go to The Eyrie where the Eagles- Bedford Town played. I would watch the first team and the reserves play. Bedford Town were in those days one of the larger non league clubs and had an excellent FA Cup Heritage.

The Eyrie as it was.

So on the 26th January 1967 I set off on my bike for the 3rd round tie against The Posh. There would have been a crowd of at least 12,000 for the match, but unfortunately we succumbed to a 6-2 defeat to the league side. After the match it would have been a quick dash to Radio Rentals TV shop window in town to catch the Sunderland result as it came through on the BBC tele -printer. We beat Brentford 5-2 that day and guess who we got in the Monday lunchtime 4th round draw- yes it was Peterborough United.

I have often wondered what would have happened if Bedford Town had beaten Peterborough on that day and gone on to play Sunderland. Even then I had no doubt as to which of the clubs I would want to win and even though Bedford born and bred it would have been Sunderland. My brothers are all the same, so my Dad did a good job on us is all I can say!

Apart from that initial 4th round tie I am sure I have seen all 9 of the other matches with Peterborough, winning or drawing all but one of them. However despite this record I was not that confident about this particular match. Although we were unbeaten in five I am not convinced about our ability to keep a clean sheet. To achieve a 100+ point total will require a significant number of clean sheets. Where they are coming from I do not know, unless the manager can sort out our defence and especially the full back positions.

Where have all the left backs gone?

Problems again I thought when the team was announced without Denver Hume our only recognised left back. As the half progressed I couldn’t understand why I had been so concerned. The game was fairly even with few chances by both sides. Knowing that we always score in this league I was now quietly confident that we would come away with at least a draw.

However with 35 minutes gone and nearly 35 yards out Maddison changed all that. His free kick completely wrong footed our keeper who was left stationary as the ball flew into the net. It had to be Maddison didn’t it? I could have predicted that. I can understand why we didn’t pursue him at £2.5M when he is out of contract in the summer, but there was always the inevitability that he would come good against us.

At half time I was still optimistic that we could get something out of the game. Although McNulty had a chance in the first half, coming back from injury, he had been pretty ineffective and I hoped he would be replaced by Grigg. Wyke had won a fair amount in the air but had little support around him. Playing towards our supporters I was sure we would equalise at some point.

That dream was soon shattered in the 56th minute when Knight increased the lead. Having only created one chance so far there was no way back from this. Inevitably it was Maddison who finished the job off just 12 minutes later.

This was going to be our biggest defeat at this level I thought as both O’Nien and then Wyke were dismissed. My mind went back to Arsenal some 23 years ago when both Martin Scott and Paul Stewart got their marching orders. The referee that day was the incompetent Paul Danson and I felt the current official, Craig Hicks was not far behind. O’Nien fell for a sucker punch by the cheating Toney. As for Wyke just put it down to frustration on his part.

Stepping into Cattermole’s boots

Lets just hope this match was a one off and a wakeup call. A two week break may just give us enough time to sort out our defensive frailties. I felt the performance at the SOL last week was the best we have played during the last two seasons at this level. I can’t believe we can then regress back to sloppy defending and a lack of fire power up front in just 7 days.

In hindsight maybe I should have stuck with Bedford Town. However, maybe not as The Eyrie no longer exists. The club went bust in 1987 and the brewer Charles Wells occupies the site. The club reformed about 5 years later and now play in a much inferior Southern League Division 1 Central. It a far cry from the days when they attracted 18,000 for a cup tie against Everton in 1966.

And finally to finish off, why not ask your friendly Mag what they know about Bedford Town from 1964.

To save you looking, yes we beat them 2-1 in the Cup.

Highlights via – if you really must

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The Chapman Report from Ipswich: Maguire makes a difference

Malcolm Dawson writes………..Pete Sixsmith is cutting down on his travelling to away games this season and e-mailed this afternoon to say that he is becoming increasingly disillusioned with SAFC and the game in general.

He’ll still be back on his soapbox after our Carabao Cup tie at Accrington on Tuesday, but gave yesterday’s long trip to the Suffolk wilds a miss, so Bob Chapman was our man at Portman Road. Bob doesn’t have many good memories of that particular ground (he must have missed the game in 1998 when John Mullin scored one of the best team goals I have ever seen MD) and yesterday was no different. His succinct summation was “absolute garbage again.” His more detailed report follows …

Bob Chapman: less than impressed

The last time I visited Ipswich was for a 3-1 defeat in 2006. I missed out on our last visit two seasons ago in the Championship as I was on holiday in Kerala, South India. I have followed Sunderland from this part of the world on a number of occasions. The most memorable being the win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in one of the great escape seasons of 2013/4. It was certainly a weird experience having to watch it in total silence to avoid waking my wife at the same time. There was no repeat for the Ipswich match. I had to follow it on the internet and gave up and went to bed when we went 3-1 down. I didn’t even check the final 5-2 score until much later the following morning. Already the rot had set in, I thought, and we hadn’t even got to October.

I have been to Portman Road numerous times over the years and to be honest I don’t have many good memories. I was there 15 years ago for a third round Cup win, but apart from that, defeats have been the usual fare. I well remember a marauding Titus Bramble in 2000 inflicting a 1-0 defeat on us. He was only a young lad at the time and I thought he would go on to be a top class act. Unfortunately he didn’t and ended up playing for us instead! By the way he was decent enough and I always quite liked him.

So, after last week I was pretty much expecting a similar result. I had so little confidence that I had compiled a Seven for Pete in advance on the journey there. I was going to go with “Tractor Boys plough Sunderland to another defeat”.

Arriving in town for 11.30 we headed to the Station Hotel. With parking nearby and only a five-minute walk to the ground it was an obvious choice. Decent beer and good company was spoilt by a lack of facilities. However that is no excuse for some men to think it is OK to use the ladies toilets and sinks as an alternative.

Off to the ground to find just two changes from last week.

Within minutes we were on the back foot. If you are going to score goals you need to get players into the box. We just don’t do that well enough. In fact the first half was so inept that the only point worth noting is their goal. Garbutt picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and ran with it before shooting between McLaughlin’s legs at his near post. The keeper will be disappointed no doubt, but we didn’t deserve any better to be honest. It really was dreadful stuff being served up for the travelling support.

As I made my way down to the concourse at half time I passed Gerard Woods. We greeted each other with the word shocking at exactly the same moment! Nothing else needed to be said, it really couldn’t get any worse. Having watched 135 minutes so far of a new season I had seen two shots on target of which one had been a penalty!

Made a difference second half

The second half couldn’t be this bad I thought and to be fair it wasn’t. Maguire was brought on and we had reverted to a more conventional back four. Like so many times last season we managed to get ourselves back in the game. A long clearance by the keeper was being shepherded out by Chambers for a goal kick. Perseverance by McNulty allowed him to get possession and then pick out Gooch who side footed the ball into the net.

Once we had equalised we picked up a little. The introduction of Maguire a half time had certainly made a huge difference. For the remainder of the half neither side’s defence was put under much pressure and the inevitable and all too common 1-1 resulted.

I am unable to get to the Accrington match on Tuesday, but I am sure I will see a number of changes made. Hopefully these changes pay off and the manager will have a side confident enough to tackle Portsmouth next Saturday. If there is no improvement then I can see there being problems and the change the manager bandwagon will understandably continue to roll on.

For myself, I hope he gets it right as this club needs stability and he needs time to build a side. However I am sure many will disagree and that we need to do the change now before it gets too late. If all we can hope for is a possible Wembley visit next May, I would be pretty confident of predicting the outcome of that!

Match highlights are available via


Sixers Sevens: Gooch rescues a point at Ipswich

Jake: ‘Sixer (or his sub) does it in seven words, no more, no less – unless he miscounts’

Malcolm Dawson writes….with Pete otherwise engaged today Bob Chapman was our man at Portman Road. Do people still do the pools? If they do then no guessing which team’s fixture should be marked with an X on Littlewoods or Vernons. 

We went behind. No surprise there then. We equalised. Not unusual either. I don’t suppose Paddy Power or BetDaq offer very long odds on any game involving Sunderland finishing 1-1. Our forwards have been getting stick for not scoring enough but the BBC stats show only 3 shots on target to the Tractor Boys’ 16, with the Suffolk side managing 6 on target to Gooch’s solitary effort for us so it would seem that maybe the problems lie further back.

A point gained or two dropped? A more detailed appraisal will follow and while we wait here’s Bob’s seven word summary.

10 August Ipswich Town 1 (1)  Sunderland 0 (1) *Decent recovery from absolutely shocking first half

3 August Sunderland 1 (0) Oxford United 1 (1) Looks like a repeat of last season


Sixer’s sub’s Soapboax: Crystal Palace – plenty of possession but not much of a threat

John McCormick writes: When Alfie N’Diaye pops up with a goal for your relegation competitors you know the Gods of football can’t be happy with you. What, then, must they feel towards Sam Allardyce?

Not that anyone’s complaining, of course, apart from perhaps a few of the fans who left Selhurst Park early after our own midfield did what it has needed to do since August and not only snuffed out the opposition but also scored a game-changing goal.

And how do the Gods of football feel about Pete Sixsmith?  Was he there watching Kone and Ndong and, of course, Jermaine Defoe? I think not because this report comes courtesy of Bob Chapman

Read moreSixer’s sub’s Soapboax: Crystal Palace – plenty of possession but not much of a threat

The Chapman Report from West Bromwich Albion: another new boss’s losing start

Robert Chapman: 'when will we win?'
Robert Chapman: ‘when will we win?’

Once again, Bob Chapman stepped into Pete Sixsmith’s boots for the visit to WBA. And once again he provides an incisive assessment of what he witnessed, with an interesting having-it-both-way assessment of the one big controversy of the game …

Here is a Salut Sunderland quiz question. This report is the fourth in a sequence of firsts so what is it? For a clue the previous three were Swansea, Chelsea and West Ham.

West Bromwich Albion has the honour of possessing the highest league ground in England. I would have thought the likes of Burnley, Oldham and Bradford would be higher, but at 552 feet the Hawthorns is the highest.

Read moreThe Chapman Report from West Bromwich Albion: another new boss’s losing start

SA’s Essay: enter Salut!Sunderland’s post West Brom spot the difference competition

Malcolm Dawson writes…..I went to Esh Winning today where I saw Julio Arca score a peach of a free kick for South Shields’ fourth in an easy victory for the Tyneside club. My MP4 player was tuned to Radio Newcastle where the first half summary sounded good. For some reason I jinxed things by tuning in just as Pants dropped a clanger and from then on it was a not unusual story. I don’t like to comment on games I haven’t seen live so will wait for MOTD and Bob Chapman’s match report to see if there is any cause for optimism. Since Martin O’Neill’s day we have had three “Head Coaches” whose first language wasn’t English. Now we have an Englishman in charge I challenge you to spot the difference in the post match e-mail – the first of Big SA’s essays. P.S. No prizes I’m afraid – not even a mug!

Jake captures Joan's winning entry
“Oh Pants” says Jake


Dear Colin,

The first half performance was pretty pleasing and we had the better of the opportunities to take the lead.

I thought we defended very well, which in the past, before I came here, was the biggest weakness in the team. I thought that we didn’t look like conceding a goal, but unfortunately in the second half we’ve had a very valuable point taken away from us.

From an attacking point of view, I wasn’t quite as satisfied in the second half as I was in the first, but overall it was a reasonably good performance. We need to cut out conceding silly goals and when we do we’ll start winning and drawing.

I thought we deserved to take a point away from the game today. It is a disappointing result but there’s plenty to build on.

Thanks for your support,

Sam Allardyce

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Chapman Reports from Aston Villa as Sixer acclaims Lizzie Jones at Wembley

Robert Chapman: 'when does the new season start?'
Jake: bravo to Salut! Sunderland‘s supersub, Robert Chapman

Bob Chapman seems to have had the sort of awayday Monsieur Salut most enjoys (except when there’s the cherry on the cake of a win to make it even better): pre-match pints with John Marshall and the Woods brothers, Mick and Gerard, followed by Sunderland goals to cheer and at least the avoidance of defeat along with the feeling, still weak but growing, that things may indeed be going to get better.

Bob steps up to the Soapbox because Pete Sixsmith took himself off to Wembley for the utterly one-side Leeds Rhinos’ victory over Hull KR (50-0). He draws attention to the highlight of his afternoon, Lizzie Jones’s tearjerking rendition of Abide With Me stirring memories of her husband Danny, the Keighley Cougars and Wales player who died from a heart attack after feeling unwell during a game in May. That was worth reproducing here and I challenge you not to be moved.

Now let Bob describe his day ..

Read moreChapman Reports from Aston Villa as Sixer acclaims Lizzie Jones at Wembley

The Chapman Report from Chelsea: summer relief for the well-travelled SAFC fan

Robert Chapman: 'when does the new season start?'
Robert Chapman: ‘when does the new season start?’

Bob Chapman brings down the curtain on what we hope has been another season of fine, incisive reporting from each Sunderland game, the best of it combining analysis, observation and humour (the latter quality is remarkable, given the feelings of dejection that all too often haunt the Sunderland supporter’s life). Pete Sixsmith has explained his absence from the final two games, leaving Arsenal to his younger brother Michael and Chelsea to his pal Bob, a frequent understudy. Salut! Sunderland thanks all contributors for one more season of triumph over failure, hope over despair …

Read moreThe Chapman Report from Chelsea: summer relief for the well-travelled SAFC fan

The ‘still optimistic’ Chapman Report from Stoke: Messi no match for this

Robert Chapman: 'ever the optimist'
Robert Chapman: ‘ever the optimist’, oddly enough a caption already used this season

Pete Sixmsith once again steps down from the Soapbox to make way for Bob Chapman, whose pre-match pint was taken with a man who’d willingly forked out £30 for Stoke versus Sunderland after baulking at nearly six times more for a Barcelona game a few days earlier. Bob considered it a decent point even if results at Palace and Burnley dumped us in the bottom three …

Read moreThe ‘still optimistic’ Chapman Report from Stoke: Messi no match for this

The Chapman Report from West Ham: disappointing finale but no one ‘walked’

Robert Chapman: 'ever the optimist'
Robert Chapman: ‘ever the optimist’

There seems consensus that Sunderland showed vast improvement at West Ham – they could hardly have been worse than a week before – but that the crowd saw two fairly poor teams, neither truly deserving to lose or, for that matter, win. Bob Chapman‘s ascent of Sixer’s Soapbox was a little more painful than usual – read on for medical news – as was his hobbling tour of east London landmarks beforehand. But he left the Boleyn head intact and predisposition to optimism unshaken …

Read moreThe Chapman Report from West Ham: disappointing finale but no one ‘walked’