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!
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!