LINES FROM LONDON: SUNDERLAND V FLEETWOOD TOWN


It's about time we beat Fleetwood and I think tonight will be the time we do it. They're on a very good run, with five wins on the trot, and with Joey Barton mouthing off as usual it's building up to being quite a clash. I like the way Parky has deflected Barton's comments and said that we'll do our talking on the pitch. We have no injury problems and Lynch is coming back into contention too so I imagine there'll be no changes to the starting line-up. I seem to recall that Fleetwood have even bigger defenders than the average League One side so it's going to be the usual physical battle but we're learning to cope well with that as the goals against stats clearly show. Coventry are at home to Rotherham tonight so a draw there would suit us best. I think we'll concede but my match prediction is a 2-1 win.


I got the team news around 7.00 and there were no surprises, which was good news. I was also pleased to hear when I tuned into SAFSEE that it was dry and windless. Almost from the kick-off a sloppy pass from Gooch set up a goal-attempt for McKay and then a corner for Fleeetwood. We got it clear and soon won a free-kick on our right which Maguire took but Flanagan's header went well over. After five minutes we were one-down when McKay smashed in a cross. Our fans immediately responded with a chant but it was going to be a real test of character to fight our way back into it. We won our first corner in the eleventh minute but couldn't make anything out of it. Power was booked not long afterwards arousing a lot of booing from our fans. About twenty minutes in, commentator Gary Bennett said that we just weren't clicking down the left and we had to avoid becoming frustrated at Fleetwood's delaying tactics. We created a good move in the twenty-sixth minute that resulted in a Maguire effort hitting the bar and that warmed all of our cockles as we hadn't done much until then. We enjoyed a purple patch for the next five minutes or so that got our fans going. Another good move involving Wyke and Maguire produced a Gooch effort that went not far wide and we'd improved a lot as the half had gone on. With five minutes to the break an equalizer would set things up very nicely but the Fleetwood defence was sounding solid. Fleetwood won a couple of corners in stoppage-time but we kept them out and it remained 0-1 at the break.


Max Power broke up a little routine that the Fleetwood players were going through while we were waiting for the second-half to start, earning a roar from our fans. Early on Flanagan gave the ball away to Madden in a dangerous area but we escaped. A hard shot from Power was straight at goalkeeper Cairns but showed some promise. We were sounding too wobbly at the back so any action in their half was a bonus. Having jut written that, Ozturk made a great stop and won a roar from the crowd. He was booked a little bit after that which didn't go down well at all. Fleetwood were clearly timewasting so I hoped that we'd get a winner in the resultant stoppage-time. As the hour-mark approached Benno suggested we bring on Watmore for Gooch or Hume and we definitely needed some new ideas as we weren't getting anywhere. A low ball across the box from Hume went begging and there were half-hearted appeals for a penalty as O'Nien went down. Hume had a nosebleed and was replaced by Semenyo in the sixty-fifth minute. With around a quarter of an hour left a draw seemed to be the best we could hope for but I was glad to hear that Scowen was warming up. Fleetwood were more than capable of a quick break and sounded dangerous when they did. Laffferty replaced Dobson so we were certainly playing what big guns we had. The biggest cheer of the half so far was for when Madden became the first Fleetwood player in the book but those minutes were ticking away and Fleetwood were starting to push up more. Watmore came on for the final four minutes with Willis making way for him and despite a good dollop of stoppage-time, it really looked like we were heading for defeat but in the ninety-seventh minute Watmore fed Power and he smashed it home to earn us a draw. The crowd sounded ecstatic.


This feels like a victory but give it a few hours... Coventry and Rotherham drew too so that was good for us. Anyway, see you at St. Andrew's on Sunday.


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