After Tuesday's disappointment it really is must win time tonight. Even if we win, we can't overtake Barnsley but we'll be ahead of Portsmouth. I think we can win and I agree with a number of other correspondents that Maguire would be the man to make the difference. The match is still hours away so I have no team news apart from the fact that Watmore is definitely unavailable. Grigg came in for a stack of criticism after missing two easy chances on Tuesday but once he gets that first goal I'm sure he'll take off. I won't be at the match but I'll be watching it in a London pub full of Sunderland fans and hopefully the place will be jumping. Match prediction: 2-1 to us.
I got to the Old Red Lion in Angel half an hour before kick off and the game was on the big screen while plenty of our fans were in evidence. I got a Guinness in, took a seat in an optimum position and awaited developments. I saw that both Wyke and Grigg were starting and was pleased about that but Maguire was only on the bench.
As there was no sound on the TV in a way that made it more like being at the match. There was a minute's applause for Gordon Banks, and richly deserved but I still reckon Monty's Wembley saves were better. There was an ominous moment of hesitation from Baldwin after just a minute but in the nick of time Dunne arrived to clear it for a corner. We did most of the attacking in the first ten minutes without ruffling the Accrington defence and when they made the odd foray our defence looked wobbly at times. Maybe it was because it was the thirteenth minute but Grigg had a golden chance laid on for him in the box but he side-footed it wide. In the twentieth he had a much better effort following an O'Nien throw from the right but under pressure he hit it just wide. Once again our passing was really sloppy a lot of the time in all areas of the field, even some of McLaughlin's clearances were off the mark. Accrington hadn't scored this year and had barely threatened our goal at all but shortly before the half-hour mark Baldwin gave away a penalty when he fouled Smyth and Kee stuck it away no problem to put them ahead. Baldwin was having a shite evening as he was yellow-carded five minutes later and for a horrible moment or two I thought it was going to be a red. Accrington enjoyed a rosier period after that and we were looking all over the place. A great block from McLaughlin not long before the break made sure it remained 0-1 and that's the way it was as the whistle went for half-time, though we'd had a penalty shout for handball that had gone unheeded. I think it's just as well there was no sound on the telly as I couldn't imagine the response of the SoL crowd would've sounded too jolly.
Maguire had replaced Wyke as we kicked off again but a few minutes into the second period we were still displaying the disturbing habit from our recent ignominious seasons of passing backwards to go forwards. Anyway, Accrington got their second in the fifty-third minute when Smyth headed in a cross from the left before doing a couple of somersaults in celebration. The communal heart in the pub sank but a few minutes later we pulled one back when following a cross from Maguire, Honeyman lammed one in. That gave us a much-needed shot in the arm and we started to play much more fluently and with more commitment. A Gooch effort was well-saved and in the sixty-second minute we were level when McGeady hit in a low shot after starting the move himself with a great tackle outside their box. Next thing a Maguire free-kick was cleared off the line and we had Accrington rocking. There was still stacks of time to go and I felt we could win it. We brought on Morgan for Gooch with less than a quarter of an hour to go and Power for Leadbitter five minutes later but we'd gone off the boil and again there was too much laboured movement and too many hopeful long punts upfield against big defenders. A good low shot by Power was saved by the post and in the last minute O'Nien headed home but it was rightly ruled out for offside. Five minutes of stoppage time gave us hope but Accrington were defending very heavily and we couldn't squeeze through. There were shouts for a penalty when Honeyman was brought down but they were ignored and it finished 2-2.
It's mixed feelings time again as obviously a draw wasn't good enough but I enjoyed the fightback and am happy about that at any rate. We're above Portsmouth at last.