Sixer’s Soapboax from Hartlepool: Grayson’s work in progress

Jake: ‘a useful run-out and win, or cause for concern that we laboured to overcome weak opposition?’

M Salut writes: at a chilly Victoria Park last night, Pete Sixsmith took a good look at the 17 players used by Simon Grayson as he assessed our chances of mounting a serious challenge for promotion. Sunderland won 2-1, but impressed few of those who have had their say already about what seems to have been a ponderous, uncreative performance.

The bookies say the Championship is regarded by many as more exciting than the Premier League, given the golden prize of promotion. Those who feel we stand a chance will see plenty of opportunities, as the season develops, at to back their belief with a flutter.

Meanwhile, let Sixer apply his forensic touch to events at Hartlepool 1-2 Sunderland …

Twelve months ago, we pitched up at Victoria Park with a team that included Vito Mannone, Younes Kaboul, Patrick van Aanholt, Fabio Borini and Jermain Defoe. We cruised into a 3-0 lead, took the nucleus of the Great Escape Vol 4 off at half time and looked like a team heading for the upper echelons of the Premier League.

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From Hartlepool to England. Bye bye Sam, hello David?

Sixer at Hartlepool
Sixer at Hartlepool

It threatens to be a sad day. The FA is expected to be appoint Big Sam to the England job and will not be apologising to Sunderland for the disruption its wretched foot-slogging has caused to our pre-season plans. Then the stage is set, or so we have been led to believe for David Moyes’s arrival as our new boss. Let Pete Sixsmith take up the story from what is likely to have been Allardyce’s last match in charge of SAFC, last night’s friendly at Hartlepool …

Fifty one weeks ago, the Sunderland first team were losing at Doncaster Rovers, having turned in a performance which left many in the crowd worried for the coming season.

That night, they looked unfit, lacking cohesion and an absolute shambles from front to back as they lost to a side that ended up being relegated to the bottom tier.

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Sixer spots the difference as Portsmouth follow Southampton to Hartlepool

Sixer by Jake
Sixer by Jake

.. that difference being that the Saints were on the way up when they visited the Victoria ground. Pompey are heading in the opposite direction. From the heights of the Premier and Wembley to the foot, or nearly, of the third tier with worse possibly to come, Portsmouth present a sorry face. Pete Sixsmith hails the 400 Pompey stalwarts who still travelled north for a midweek game at bottom-placed Hartlepool …

Tuesday night
and a glance at the fixture list flags up Hartlepool United v Portsmouth as the game of the evening. Four years ago, Pompey were playing at the Stadium of Light, Old Trafford and, er, the DW Stadium. Now, they are appearing at Gigg Lane, Boundary Park and Broadhall Way, Stevenage. Next year it is likely to be Plainmoor and the Crown Ground, Accrington.

It is a dramatic fall for a club that has connections with Sunderland. Like us, they are an industrial city. Like us, they have a long history. Like us, they have had good and bad seasons. But never one like this.

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Darlington/Hartlepool Soapbox: upbeat vibes, glowing Steed tribute

Pete Sixsmith was indeed at both Hartlepool and Darlington – I can barely bring myself to write The Northern Echo Darlington Arena, even if I did work for that august journal in what I fondly imagine to have been its heyday – but was defeated by technology at Darlo (he’d left his phone at home). This, then, is his full account of two comfortable wins …

One game to go before the season opener at Anfield and at Sixsmith Towers there is a growing feeling of optimism for season 2011-12. The Easter Road workout will surely give the final pointers to the line up Steve Bruce will go for on August 13.

The two games this week will have given him much to think about and also much to be pleased with. Of the two, the Hartlepool one was of far more use than the trip to Darlington, with it being against a higher ranking club and with a more competitive edge.

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Hartlepool 1 Sunderland 3: and is it farewell to Stee…eeed?

The news from down the A19 was that Sunderland won comfortably, 3-1 with goals from Gyan, Colback and Larsson.

Better still, Pete Sixsmith reports from the game, we took it seriously and the match produced “some good pointers”. Ian Porter, at Blackcats, was also encouraged by what he saw (see footnote*).

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