Our side didn’t seem to be at the races for much of Saturday’s match so I hope they’re a lot more galvanized today. The eight thousand Sunderland fans going to today’s game will be roaring them on and the team need to raise their game back to what we’ve seen they’re capable of. Blackpool are on the fringe of the promotion race and are currently twelve points behind us but have lost three out of their last five games. So, I reckon we can beat them and as we’ve always got at least one goal a game let’s make sure we get it first and as early as possible. I haven’t had any team news at this early hour but I’d like to see Watmore on from the start and hopefully Gooch, now that his contract has been sorted, will be back to his normal self. With this being the fourth game in ten days, there may well be some earlier substitutions than of late. As for our rivals, Luton are at home to Barnsley so something has to give there while Peterborough, Portsmouth and Charlton are all at home and will be expected to win. I’ll not be among our fans today so I’ll be listening on the internet and my match prediction is a 2-1 win for us.
I got the team-news around 2.30 and Wyke was starting as well as Maja while James was in for the injured Oviedo and Watmore was being rested. Mumba and Kimpioka were on the bench and I hoped that the latter would be given a little run out near the end if the result was looking safe. When I tuned in to SAFSEE our fans were coming over loud and clear and very soon there was a chorus of ‘Garden Shed’.
It was all us in the opening stages and we created plenty of attacks without seriously threatening their goal. Commentators Barnes and Bennett were having some difficulty seeing what was happening because of a stanchion and standing spectators. We won the first corner in the eighth minute but it was headed away and we really need to try and make our corners count. Elsewhere Charlton were already 2-0 up against Walsall, which wasn’t good for us. Catts was booked for the ninth time this season for bringing down the speedy Delfouneso and is a card away from a two-match ban. By the midway point we were still largely in control with Wyke making his presence felt but hadn’t yet forced Howard in goal into a serious save. A minute later we were ahead and it was Maja again who flicked it into the corner after receiving a cross from McGeady. Blackpool retaliated strongly with Delfouneso and Feeney causing problems with their pace and McLaughlin made a great save to keep Taylor’s effort out. We were obliged to defend for the next ten minutes or so but did it well with our McGeady and Gooch falling back to help out the defenders. In the closing minutes we came back again but conceded a free-kick in a dangerous spot, though McLaughlin was there to save the resultant shot. Of course we needed to get to the break still ahead and a single minute of stoppage-time was good news. It remained 0-1 at half-time while in other games Portsmouth were 1-0 up and Peterborough 1-0 down with the Luton v Barnsley match goalless. All in all not bad at all.
There were no changes for either side as we kicked off again. Clearly we needed a second goal before we could relax a little. Two minutes in we rode our luck again when the ball hit our post and rebounded into the grateful hands of McLaughlin. We fought back strongly and forced Howard into a couple of saves. Walsall pulled one back against Charlton and that was all to the good. There was a spot of handbags involving O’Connor and Gooch which resulted in a yellow card for each. We won our third corner of the game in the fifty-seventh minute but as usual it came to nothing. Scunthorpe went 2-0 up against Peterborough and that was great for us. Shortly afterwards McGeady shot from some distance and Howard fumbled it around the post. “I’m Sunderland till I die” was coming across very loudly and I wondered how many Blackpool fans were there as I hadn’t heard a squeak out of them yet. Gary Bennett criticized Baldwin again for his poor distribution and he wasn’t the first one to say that recently. He lavished praise on O’Nien, though, and rightly so by the sound of it. With a quarter of the game to go thoughts were turning to substitutions with Wyke a likely candidate to be replaced, probably by Maguire. We actually did something good from a corner when a Flanagan header was cleared off the line. Blackpool made a change, replacing Delfouneso with Dodoo, and I was glad to hear the former go off. That lead was feeling very slender and it was pacing around the room time for me but news that Portsmouth had conceded a goal and were drawing 1-1 made things feel better. McGeady was in the thick of things at both ends, shooting just over and then hooking the ball away from near our line at the other. Howard saved well from a Gooch shot and then there were ten minutes left – still no subs for us. Portsmouth went ahead again. We finally made a change, bringing on McGeouch for Wyke with about seven minutes to go to much applause. Very soon Maguire replaced Maja to even more applause. Four minutes of stoppage-time were announced, more than I’d expected, but with our fans singing at full voice that whistle finally went and we’d won.
A great start to 2019. Three points, a clean sheet and we’ve gained two points on both Luton and Barnsley as well as three points on Peterborough. See you at Charlton.