Sunderland's response to the return of former gaffer Simon Grayson was a display that had a bit more organisation than of late, but still lacking enough of a cutting edge to win. Too much passing sideways- and more importantly backwards, meant that we didn't get the ball forward nearly quickly enough. To be honest, even a narrow victory wouldn't have been enough to turn the majority of the crowd in Parky's favour - about 4-0 might have done it.
Even by our crazy standards, it's been a basket-case of a week at SR5. The club, not ALS, although it's catching. After a few days turning the house Christmassy, which basically means that for the next fortnight it will be lit solely by battery-powered lighting and I'm covered in glitter, the election faded into the background as Charlie Methven resigned, I put my toe through the leg of my jeans, and McGeady got binned. You can look at the latter both ways - the manager either alienated arguably our most creative (but malfunctioning) player after he was captured on camera eating fast food, or he identified a disruptive influence in the squad, who was also breaking rules, and decided getting shot was best for the team. Suffice to say neither Charlie nor Aiden took up the offer of Poolie Brian's spare ticket, but it did eventually get shifted, restoring my faith in human nature a bit -but not enough to generate much enthusiasm for the match. 1-1 certainly didn't.
With a decent following, Blackpool started proceedings, in a Huddersfield/Coventry kit, towards the North end, as we lined up:
Flanagan Ozturk De Bock
O'Nien Power Dobson Hume
Watmore Wyke Maguire
By the time we'd worked out who was playing where, De Bock passed up the chance to hoof it into their half, they put in something that was neither a cross nor a shot from the right, and it nestled in the net as we shouted instructions. That knocked the stuffing out of a crowd already short on positivity.
Following that, we sort of passed about reasonably well apart from the final one into the box. There were a few that nearly got us in, but Watmore was getting no change from their left back. We won a few corners, had a couple of wayward shots, and had to be careful of the visitors trying to hit us on the break, chiefly down their right. Maguire and Watmore swapped sides, and on 36 Maguire took a corner from the right. O'Nien was flattened in front of the near post, but before we'd got the word "penalty" out of our mouths, Charlie met the ball perfectly with his head, and the net bulged. Smashing. Simple but effective, and ten minutes to half time.
In those, we managed to win more corners, McLaughlin punched clear, and they should have scord a second...but their man, with our keeper the wrong side of him, stuck out a knee and cleared it off the line when, had he just got out of the way the goal would have stood. Thanks, mate.
There was a yellow for Dobson in the added three minutes after ref missed/ignored a foul on O'Nien, and we went in level.
They swapped 10 for 14 for the second half, we made no changes.
In 58, there was a mysterious yellow for Flan after a play-on that saw our quick break end up with the visitors' box crowded with defenders.
On 64, O'Nien won a corner after chasing Dobson's long ball, and Wyke crashed a header against the bar. Another corner, on the left, was won by Watmore, but Maguire's dead ball was cleared.
A couple of minutes later Watmore hoofed one way over the top after he'd been given offside when he clearly wasn't.
He was then part of a heavy challenge as they cleared, perfectly legitimately, that left him on the deck and us fearing the worst...but with Grigg and Gooch already warming up, it was no surprise when the latter replaced him on 71 minutes. A minute after that, Dobson got a second yellow for what looked like a perfectly legal, if robust challenge. The quality of officiating in this division has been commented on before (me, almost weekly) but this fella today, and his assistants, were particularly woeful. Even when their keeper ineffectively flapped, twice, at Hume's short crosses and Wyke was wrestled to the floor, he gave nothing.
On 77, Grigg replaced Wyke as we tried something different, but the next action of note was Gooch and his marker getting physical and earning a booking apiece. Leadbitter replaced Maguire, Gooch fed O'Nien, and his low cross was grabbed by the keeper.
Gooch then won a free just after four added minutes were announced, but it was rolled hopelessly and harmlessly wide of Jak Alnwick's right- hand post. The crowd was announced as 30,000-odd, to howls of laughter, the whistle went, and the boos - rather unfairly - rang out.
Man of the match? Probably O'Nien, or perhaps Wyke, but please feel free to contradict.