Ryan Noble, come on down.
After this display, it will be hard to see MON not playing Noble in some capacity on Sunday. Under Bruce, it seemed to be a goal per minute ratio, which would have been four on Sunday. Under MON though, I think we may see him given a chance, and not left out of the team because “he has the body of a boy” (Bruce’s actual words). He must have forgotten that two of the three players in with a chance of winning the Ballon d’or (Messi and Xavi) are small players themselves. Which is weird, as I can’t remember Henderson or Colback (two of Bruce’s favourites) being massive.
To the match then. Despite there being plenty of empty seats, the traffic warden-like stewards wouldn’t let us sit down. Being able to feel your own feet is over-rated anyway. Looking at the team sheet, we had a fairly strong eleven out. Vaughan and Gardner had a point to prove and played like it as well. United started on the front foot though, and in the fourteenth minute opened the scoring in spectacular fashion. A long ball over the top was miraculously controlled by number two Marnick Vermijl who then proceed to glide past Michael Liddle and sweep the ball into the bottom corner.
SAFC almost drew level when Gardner’s shot was well saved by Tomasz Kuszcack. Sunderland did get an equaliser seven minutes later, as David Meyler had his shot blocked from Liddle’s cross, but he managed to run on to his own rebound and slot home. Sunderland could have doubled their lead just before half time, as Craig Gardner somehow headed over James McLean’s brilliant cross. Gardner did get his goal though, as he blasted past Kuszcack from a free kick earned by Jordan Cook. We had progressed as the half wore on, and were well worth our lead.
At half time, the objective was to somehow crawl under the mesh that had accompanied the new scaffolding that had come out of nowhere. It was MUTV, who had probably come expecting a comfortable united victory. How wrong they were.
It took Sunderland just three minutes to get the third, as McLean (again) put in a brilliant delivery, which Noble controlled, turned and slotted home. Noble got his second just seven minutes later, as he latched on to a great Gardner through ball and stuck it in the bottom corner with aplomb. Unfortunately, United got a goal back when Michael Keane neatly finished off a good move. Two minutes later, Gardner and Vaughan came off. Resting them for Saturday perhaps? United seemed to continue the fight back as William Keane raced through on goal and delightfully chipped over Trevor Carson. It only took Noble a minute to end the red resurgence as he headed in from (another) great McLean ball.
The match went off the boil after that, although Noble did add a sixth and his fourth after his shot was deflected in after a bit of pinball in the area.
One to look out for: Noble (obviously) had a good game, as did Vaughan and Gardner, but James McLean was outstanding, and must be very close to the first team. He could be the best left footed winger we have had since Julio.
SAFC: Trevor Carson, Liam Bagnall, Michael Liddle, Craig Gardner (Craig Lynch), Titus Bramble (John Egan), Matthew Killgallon, David Meyler, David Vaughan (Adam Reed), Jordan Cook, Ryan Noble, James McLean
Final Score: SAFC Reserves 6 Man United 3