After the disappointment of the last two games I'll be glad to get back to some league action and hopefully a win this afternoon. McFadzean and Diamond's performances have given us some glimmer amid the recent gloom but will Parky play them in a more meaningful game? The general feeling is that he won't and the anti-Parky feeling is growing. Apart from an improved Wyke, the failure of our attack force has been plain for all to see so our goals will have to come from Gooch and others who can hit a barn door. I'll be watching the match with my Sunderland bubble and I think we'll get a win as long as our injured defenders have returned to fitness. Match prediction: 2-1 to us.
Apart from two defenders being away on international duty, there were a number of changes with Matthews making his league debut in goal, O'Nien back from suspension, Maguire on the bench and both Grigg and Wyke upfront. The game got off to a lively start with the Dons winning an early corner from which Lexington hit an effort just over the bar and then Grigg put a neat low pass into the box that Wyke, I think, just failed to tap in, being hemmed in by two defenders. It was going end to end and Jerome had a decent effort from another corner but then we went ahead in the twelfth minute when Power received the ball at the edge of the box and hit a low shot that took a slight deflection and hit the back of the net. Things continued in a ding-dong manner and when we conceded a free-kick on our right five minutes later, Jerome, who's always looked a handy player, back-headed it into our net to put them level. Grigg had a great chance to put us ahead but failed to capitalise on it and Fisher in goal got to the ball first. The commentator said, “We've yet to see the best of Will Grigg...” Well, I wouldn't argue with that. As the half-time whistle approached we started to enjoy a decent attacking period but with the Dons playing five across the back we weren't getting much change out of them and our passing was decidedly iffy. Then we were on the receiving and and they looked much more effective when they got near the box than we were. In the last minute O'Nien headed our bar as another dangerous cross came in. I was glad there was only one minute of stoppage-time.
Almost from the kick-off we conceded a penalty when Power fouled Fraser, though it looked to me like the latter made sure he jumped into the box after contact was made. Anyway, Fraser got up to send Matthews the wrong way and we were behind. Our attacks were too slow and when the commentator said we were being forced to pass backwards, we weren't – we just decided to pass backwards. Around the hour mark it looked like we were about to make some much-needed changes, early for Parky, and my fellow-bubble member nearly choked on his can of Guinness when he heard Graham was likely to come on. In the end it was Maguire who replaced Power in the sixty-seventh minute and I hoped he would produce some much-needed magic. Grigg missed a real sitter just before then when he failed to stick a low Gooch pass into an open goal from maybe a foot out. I had the feeling we'd never score. Graham did come on, for Grigg, with just under twenty minutes left and soon Wyke, who'd been invisible most of the game, had a good header on target which Fisher blocked on the line. Suddenly there were only ten minutes to go and we couldn't see us getting even a draw as the Dons had looked more than comfortable even before half-time. Hume had a good shot on target that Fisher stopped with his foot and next thing Matthews had to make a great stop when it looked certain that we were looking at 1-3. In the eighty-sixth minute Diamond finally made an appearance when he came on for Willis; he should've been on from the start. Five additional minutes were announced and we'd need a miracle the way things were going. Leadbitter had a good effort with a low shot but again Fisher was up to it. It ended 1-2.
This was grim, again, and we seem to becoming a banker away win for struggling sides.