SUNDERLAND V EVERTON, 11TH MAY 2016


We’re all on a high after Saturday’s fantastic result against Chelsea and the fact that the other results all turned out well for us. Spurs losing at home on Sunday and Arsenal getting an equalizer against Man City just put the icing on the cake as of course Spurs will definitely be in the mood to beat the Mags on Sunday and finish above their big rivals. But….it could still all go wrong so I’m trying to keep my feet on the ground. Everton are in turmoil at the moment but their away form is better than their home and they did batter us 6-2 in the away match so they could spoil our party. I always dread Lennon running down our flanks while Lukaku is always a threat. There should be another full house tonight and the crowd will again be a factor while evening matches often bring out the best in us. I don’t think we have any injury worries so we should have the same starting eleven as on Saturday and I think it’s great that we can bring on Watmore and Seb to add some late impetus. You’ve got to fancy Norwich to get a result at home to Watford but anything less than a win for them would make it virtually impossible for them to overtake us even if we lose both our remaining games. I can’t get to the game tonight, though my Watford ticket arrived yesterday, so I’m planning to watch it with a crowd of the London Branch at a pub in Angel. Match prediction: 1-1.

I got to the pub just after 7.30 as I was working late and it was stowed out with our fans. The smaller room was showing the Norwich game. Having failed to get served I managed to get a good spot at the back near the door where a nice breeze was wafting in and I could also keep an eye on the Norwich game through a handily-placed window. Our fans were in fine voice in the pub as the teams emerged and there seemed to be no surprises in the line-up. The opening ten minutes were uneventful with neither side seriously threatening. The first bit of excitement we had came three minutes later when Defoe partly blocked a clearance from goalie Joel but it went for a throw. The very nice lad next to me said, “If you keep me seat, I’ll get you a pint in,” which was extremely decent of him. We started to put the pressure on and Yedlin won our first corner in the eighteenth minute which culminated in a Kaboul header on target. I heard that Norwich were 2-1 up but I wasn’t going to worry about them unless I had to. Next thing Kaboul, who was clearly in the mood for a goal, went storming down the left and lashed in a good low shot that went just wide of the right post. By the half-hour mark we were still having the better of it but Everton looked pacey on the break. In the thirty-eighth minute we won a free-kick in a great spot when Defoe was fouled and my new pal moved his pint in case it got knocked over in any ensuing mayhem. He was quite right to do so as PVA lashed it in, leaving Joel hesitating, to send the pub into ecstasy. “Shearer is a wanker,” had just started up when we went two ahead with Kone slamming it in from close range after Everton had failed to clear a corner. Cue further mayhem and beer on the keyboard as I typed. The euphoria carried us all through to half-time and I felt so good I smiled as I waited ages at the bar again but this time I managed to get two pints in. Norwich were winning 3-1 apparently but so what?

The first real action of the second-half was when Kaboul conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position but Baines’s shot was easily dealt with. Next thing Kirchhoff had a header from a corner that went just wide and the pub were chanting, “Are you watching, Newcastle?” Elsewhere Watford pulled a goal back to make it 3-2 to Norwich and it was all to the good. Ten minutes in, Defoe had almost lobbed the goalie when the ball was scrambled away for a corner but from the ensuing kick Joel flapped at the ball, horribly/wonderfully depending on your affiliations, and it fell to goal-machine Kone who smashed in his second of the evening. “We are staying up!” promptly erupted from the bar. Ten minutes later I thought it was 4-0 but Joel saved very well from a snap shot by, I think, Defoe. Shortly afterwards there was applause around me for both players as Seb came on for Kirchhoff. In the seventy-third minute Vito made a great save from a header following an Everton corner. I wanted a clean sheet as well, the whole nine yards. There were still several Norwich fans in the bar despite the fact that their game had gone off-stream and I hoped they’d be gracious in defeat as it were. Catts was replaced by O’Shea with twelve minutes on the clock and we were cruising towards another victory. “Aye-aye yippy-yippy aye (fuck the Mags!),” echoed around the bar as the minutes ticked away, almost too quickly. Five minutes from the end Watmore replaced Khazri to further applause. In the final minute Vito saved from a low Lukaku shot to maintain our clean sheet and so we entered five minutes of stoppage-time. Cue “We are staying up,” followed by, “Wise men say.” Vito made another class save and from the corner Lukaku hit the post from point blank range. Next thing it was all over and the real singing began.

Rejoice! See you at Watford.


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