When Pete Sixsmith misses a game, or at any rate a Sunderland game (he was at Shildon versus Durham suffering news from Swansea by text and Benno/Barnes on BBC Radio Newcastle), the stand-in is often Bob Chapman. Needless to say the poor chap, a home-and-away regular probably since time began, found this one an agonising exercise …
I had been looking forward to this match for some time. My wife is a great cook and I had persuaded her that a weekend in Cardiff would be a nice change.
On my last visit to Cardiff I had come across Kitchens Cook Shop. It has three floors dedicated to every and anything associated with cookery. So I arranged with my good mate John Marshall that we would have a weekend together in Cardiff. Our better halves could pamper themselves and go shopping and John and I would get the train over to Swansea, have a few pints of Brains and hopefully watch the start of the revival under Gus Poyet.
The last report I had done for Salut! Sunderland was Paolo Di Canio’s first game at Chelsea. Although we were beaten, there were signs of promise at that match which ultimately resulted in our survival. I was hoping for a similar reaction with our latest appointment.
I first visited Swansea way back in 1978 (1979, Bob, lost 3-1 and I was there too – ed) with Pete Sixsmith. Technically it was a three-day event and involved drinking copious amount of Brains finest. I faintly remember an altercation in a chip shop, Gordon Chisholm playing on the left wing and generally a woeful performance by Sunderland.
Like many supporters I am superstitious about the pre-match routine. Surely the Brains wouldn’t have the same effect this time?
For the last two, most recent visits to Swansea, there has been a good turnout. This time was different and perhaps an indication of what is to come. Even in the ground fans were talking about better places to go on a day out, cheaper ticket prices and bigger allocations next season. Of course they could well be right. For myself, I have stopped looking at the Championship table in case it has an adverse effect on our team. I don’t want to think about going to Doncaster and Bournemouth just yet thank you!
The game itself started in a pedestrian fashion. Swansea moved the ball around in their typical passing style but showed limited threat. We kept our shape and a 0-0 score at half time was a predictable outcome. In fact we came closest to scoring when Fletcher did well with a half volley from a Johnston corner, which went narrowly wide.
Both sides would have felt that they could go on to win it. We had the best early chance after the break. Bardsley found himself at the back post with a loose ball ready to be finished off. Needless to say he made a mess of it in typical defender’s fashion.
There was no way that the second half was going to be a repeat of the first and in the 57th minute we succumbed to the inevitable corner kick cock up. We have conceded six goals already this season from corners and all would have been prevented by a well-organised side.
Within two minutes we were further behind with De Guzman striking an excellent curling shot from outside the box. I don’t want to take credit from the lad but good sides don’t concede goals like that. He should have been closed down before getting the strike in. The third was even worse. I can’t remember the game but Gardner gave away an almost identical penalty at the SOL at North Stand end. Why attempt to tackle a player who is going nowhere in the penalty area and with no chance of scoring? So, at 3-0 down with 30 minutes to play and many of our fans had seen enough.
The fourth duly came from yet another corner, which deflected in off Fletcher. Altidore and Borini were brought on to little effect although the latter should have done much better with a chance set up by Lee Cattermole.
Lee Cattermole was the best player on the field. Although not captain in name, he is the one organising and motivating this motley crew and so long as he remains fit and out of referees’ notebooks we have a faint chance. Likewise Fletcher played well in the first half but ran out of steam in the second. As for the rest you can keep them!
So, back to Cardiff for a night out on the Brains! Like so many Sunderland performances it started well only to be spoiled at the end as we got absolutely drenched walking back to the hotel.
In summary, the Brains had the same effect as last time and it is a “no brainer” that we are on the way down. Unless we can get back to back wins in these next two games I see little prospect of us surviving.
Will I give up going? Of course not! Will some of the players give up? I’m not so sure!
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