LINES FROM LONDON: SUNDERLAND V BRISTOL ROVERS


It's clear that Ozturk will be replacing Wright this afternoon but other than that we should be starting with the same winning side. I like Oz, though he does have his mad moments, and he'll surely bolster up the back four and keep his place for the foreseeable. With seven clean sheets out of the last eight coupled with six wins and a draw we're really looking like a team that means business. Bristol are mid-table and are on a pretty bad run but I never take anything for granted and they'll surely try to make it as frustrating as possible for us. If we make the kind of start we did against Oxford, then I'm confident we'll go on to win comfortably. Our immediate rivals have winnable matches today so we have to win too to keep up momentum. I'll not be at the match so it's SAFSEE for me again. Match prediction: 2-0 to us.


When I got the team news around 2.15, there were no surprises. New boy Tommy Smith was on the bench. I hoped to see Scowen on in the later stages as against Oxford he looked like 'a good man in the jungle' to me. I have the horrible feeling that, for us at any rate, Lafferty is going to do nothing of note, but I'd be happy for him to prove me wrong.


When I tuned in to the commentary, I heard there was a quite a wind blowing but we managed okay in worse last week. In the opening exchanges commentator Nick Barnes said it looked like Wyke was being climbed all over by defender Craig but referee Ben Toner wasn't having it. In this league it often seems that you can wrestle attackers as much as you like and it's not a foul. Bristol made a couple of early forays that showed they were going to be a handful. About seven minutes in, commentator Benno said, as he often does, “We haven't started, have we?” Apparently, Gooch and Hume hadn't touched the ball yet. Anyway, we soon won a free-kick in an opportune spot but Maguire's low, weak shot went straight to Blackman in goal. We won our first corner just before the quarter-hour mark, but it was cleared all the way back to McLaughlin. We were starting to build up some rhythm and a Wyke effort went just over the bar. We had an effort blocked on the line and that opening goal felt not far off as our fans roared us in.


We had a shout for handball in their box denied and by the half-way mark it remained goalless and it was looking like we'd have to grind out another 1-0 win if we could. Ogogo was sounding a handful upfront – he's certainly got a cool name. Hume had an effort blocked as we approached the half-hour mark and next thing Gooch was booked for a foul. Power went over and told him to calm down a bit. We won our second corner ten minutes before the break, but it was headed away by Leahy. It had all gone a bit quiet, but I hoped for a moment of brilliance before that half-time whistle went. O'Nien appeared to be tripped by Mitchell-Lawson in the box but all we got was a corner. The ref certainly hadn't endeared himself to our fans. Just before the break an O'Nien header went just over the bar and that was that for the first half. Coventry, Wycombe and Fleetwood were all winning so the overall picture wasn't looking good. Still, a good talk from Parky at the break would put things right, I hoped.


As we kicked off again, I liked the idea of Somenyo coming on around the hour mark. After five minutes or so we began to apply some pressure and the crowd were well behind us. The attendance was announced and at 31,540 was another very good one. Wyke had some blood on his shirt and had to go off briefly. The hour-mark was approaching and I hoped to see an early change or two as we weren't really sparking upfront. Oz was yellow-carded and next thing it was, “Off you go go!” for Ogogo as he caught Maguire and got a red card (thanks to Barnesy for that one). Half an hour against ten men? It was looking promising. We won a couple of corners in a row but Bristol's big defenders were coping well. Bristol made the first change of the match bringing on a striker Rodman for Mitchell-Lawson, a straight swap. Tranmere equalized against Wycombe and Accrington did the same against Rotherham so that was all to the good. Menayese apparently pushed Gooch off the ball but no action was taken; no surprises there then.


Time was whizzing away and a dodgy penalty in the last minute would do me. Lafferty was getting ready to come on with about twenty minutes left and I had a big slice of humble pie ready just in case. Before he could make his appearance, we were ahead and it was Gooch again who got it. Lafferty sat back down so maybe Parky had been planning to take Gooch off. Bristol hadn't threatened at all this half so surely we wouldn't blow it now? Any lingering doubts were evaporated when Wyke went one on one with Blackman and rolled it into the net to make it 2-0. Seas of crisp packets were swirling around, as they must, and our fans were singing Parky's name as we entered the final fifteen minutes and all seemed well with the world. Semenyo made an appearance, replacing Gooch with around eight minutes to go, and as a Bristol City man he needed no firing up. Next thing a ricocheting effort from O'Nien put us three-up. I fancied 4-0 – why not, eh? Lafferty and Watmore came on for Wyke and Maguire with a few minutes left to much applause all round. Four minutes of stoppage-time were announced and I could've done with ten really. It ended 3-0 to a warm ovation.


A convincing win in the end and another clean sheet as we powered on. Bring on Fleetwood! It's going to be a great clash.


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