LINES FROM LONDON: SUNDERLAND V DONCASTER


Once again, I'm expecting us to win tonight so I'm trying to keep my feet on the ground as Doncaster are no pushovers and will want to spoil the party. They're on the fringe of the play-offs and will give us a fight. I don't know of any injuries or suspensions and no doubt our starting line-up will be very similar to that against MK Dons. With Gooch and Maguire both getting four goals in the last five games you've got to fancy a goal at least from the pair of them. Lafferty looked like a useful acquisition on Saturday so hopefully we'll see him on for a quarter of the game or more. Despite the game being televised, there should be a 30,000 crowd and those floodlit games often have a special atmosphere. The manager of my favourite bar is going to put the game on for me alone and I'm looking forward to it. We haven't conceded in two last two games, and that's a first this season, and it would be great to keep that up but I think Doncaster will get a goal. My match prediction is a battling 2-1 win.


I got to the bar just after 5.00 to make sure I got my favourite spot before the post-work crowd came in. When I got the team news, there didn't look like any changes from Saturday's starting line-up but new boy Bailey Wright was on the bench along with Lafferty. Our old boy Reece James was starting for them. There was no sound on the pub telly but I had safc.com's text feed as back-up.


Right from the off you could see it was going to be a rough and tumble game, as usual. About six minutes in it looked like Maguire had been fouled on the right angle of their box but no free-kick was awarded by referee James Adcock. The opening quarter of an hour was even enough with both sides not allowing much space and no real scoring chances. Very soon we conceded the first corner of the game but we cleared it no problem. We had our first chance in the twenty-second minute when a Lynch header from our first corner hit the side netting. We soon won two more corners and were definitely starting to edge it. Doncaster had a purple patch around the half-hour mark but we were defending resolutely. I noticed O'Nien was going prematurely grey but then twigged that he must have stotted his head off the touch-line. It was looking reminiscent of the MKD match with us not creating much at all upfront and being muscled out of playing our flowing game. With five minutes to the break Maguire attempted a long-distance shot that went over but it warmed the cockles a bit at any rate. Wyke was booked for feigning a foul and I must say that from the replay it did look like he'd dived but he certainly went down quickly. It remained goalless at the break and I hoped we could produce another great second-half performance as we'd been below our recent par so far. One goal would do it.


There were no changes as we kicked off again and Ennis had the first attempt four minutes in when a bad crossfield ball allowed Doncaster to break but his shot was wide. We had a nice little flurry with several attempts on gaol culminating with a Maguire shot that went well over the bar. Still it was hopefully a sign of things to come. Just when it looked like things were hotting up the screen went dead for a while and when it came back, we were still pressing and Donny were still knocking seven bells out of us. As the hour-mark passed I expected us to make a couple of changes with probably Lafferty being given a chance. Donny were giving away plenty of free-kicks and surely Maguire would lash one in before long. Will Grigg appeared on the screen and I thought for a horrible moment he was about to come on. O'Nien headed over from yet another free-kick and with twenty minutes on the clock time was getting tight. Next thing we brought on Lafferty and Watmore for Wyke and Maguire. The TV connection went AWOL again but I could see that a great O'Nien effort had been saved by Dieng. When the picture returned Watmore was promptly barged over as he raced towards their box but no free-kick ensued. We kept plugging away but we couldn't break through their robust defence and despite five minutes of stoppage-time, it ended 0-0.


Obviously disappointing but eight matches unbeaten, three without conceding a goal and I think we've moved up a place. Bring on, a hopefully very tired, Tranmere.


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