LINES FROM LONDON BLOG: SUNDERLAND AFC V BRISTOL ROVERS FC

Updated: Mar 13


When that ninety-sixth minute goal went in on Saturday, it seemed to suck the air out of the SoL. I've just dared to take a peep at the league table again and actually it didn't look too bad as we're still only three points behind second spot. I don't feel particularly confident, though, that we can get the win this evening that we need as we've lost our form again when we most need it. One good thing about the Gillingham game was that with two goals on his first start Lafferty showed he really can be an effective striker and I hope he'll start again tonight. I also hope we've done some intensive passing practice as we repeatedly gave the ball away on Saturday. Bristol are in lower-mid table and have conceded forty-nine goals so far so here's to fifty and a clean sheet for us. I think a draw between Portsmouth and Fleetwood would be best for us. I'm going to have problems accessing the match as I'll be on a Grand Central train returning to London while the game's in progress but I'll do what I can to react to proceedings. Match prediction: (utilising a lot of blind faith) 1-0 to us.


I got the team news, via the ALS Facebook page of course, just as we pulled out of Thirsk and I was pleased to see Lafferty starting again as well as Semenyo and Scowen a.k.a. The Rat. Wyke was on the bench and was joined by Gooch and Dobson. We were clearly going to attack and from the little I've seen of Scowen, he's the kind of battler we need. Even his name sounds like it would remove stubborn blockages. I started to feel a little happier about my 1-0 prediction.


I finally managed to get the SAFSEE commentary on just after kick-off and heard that it was blowing a fair bit down there too. We seemed to be doing all the early pressing but then Bristol started to press us a lot with Clarke-Harris being a threat and a nifty interception by Scowen turned a goalbound effort out for their second corner. What with the noise of the train, announcements by staff and racing through the odd tunnel it wasn't easy to follow the game but it remained goalless after twenty minutes. Midway through the half news came over that Fleetwood were one-up against Portsmouth. Just before the half-hour O'Nien conceded a third corner to Bristol but we managed to break quickly and it sounded promising as Semenyo and Maguire combined but it ended when O'Nien was penalised for a foul. Shortly afterwards Semenyo was down injured for a while but he recovered okay. Lafferty was yellow-carded not long before the break and he's clearly got a temper on him but worse was to come when Bristol took the lead with Clarke-Harris turning and shooting into the roof of the net from six yards out. Our defence was all over the place apparently. Ozturk was yellow-carded too and I could see us ending with ten men. There were five minutes of stoppage-time but I didn't hear most of them as the signal cut out just after Hargreaves was booked for a bad foul. Anyway, it remained 0-1 at the break and things weren't looking good. Portsmouth and Fleetwood were drawing 1-1.


As the second period started I knew I wouldn't be able to catch much of it, especially as the first half had overrun by seven minutes, because my train was due in to Kings Cross just after 9.00. I tried BBC Sport's live texts and saw that Wyke had replaced Lafferty and then that Portsmouth had quickly gone ahead against Fleetwood. It sounded a rough game with plenty of free-kicks and we seemed to be dishing out most of it. We won a corner in the fifty-second minute and I think it was our first. Clearly nothing came of it and then Fleetwood equalised against Portsmouth. And that was it as my train arrived and I headed homewards on the tube. Did I think we'd equalise? Let's just say I wasn't at all confident...


Well, we all know what happened. At this rate we'll be lucky to make the play-offs.


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