It's a new month and hopefully we'll have a new manager soon so I'm feeling more optimistic about the outcome of tonight's game. I'm hoping we'll see some different faces starting i.e. Diamond and McFadzean and also a willingness to use as many players as seems necessary unlike Parky's way of bringing them on far far too late to make any impact. Usually players play with more passion when a manager has just gone so I'd like to see plenty of that too. Burton are another of those sides who we've had difficulty beating for the last couple of seasons so it's about time we changed that. I'll be watching the game with my bubble in Sunderland and I think we're going to win so my match prediction is 2-1 to us.
As I walked towards my friends' home I could see the SoL beaming brightly in the distance and it added to my optimistic mood. Embleton was starting in place of Maguire and that was a positive sign. We won the first corner in the third minute and very soon a low McLaughlin effort was the first shot on target. The next event of note was after a fair while when Wyke went down injured for a few minutes. We were praying that he'd recover mainly because we dreaded Grigg especially coming on. We won our second corner in the eighteenth minute and though it was cleared, we soon had a free-kick just outside their box. That too was cleared but we won a third corner soon after and we were well on top in terms of pressure if nothing else. Wyke had been hobbling a bit since he went down and he was replaced by Graham just after the half-way mark. Quinn was looking quite nifty for them and a good cross from him was headed out for their first corner by Wright. After half an hour we had nothing to show and hadn't had a decent effort yet with little creativity in the final third. Burton goalie O'Hara made a good clearance wih his foot as Danny Graham was set to pounce (well, we hoped) and then an on-target Leadbitter piledriver hit a Burton player in the face as we pushed for a goal with half-time approaching. It remained goalless as the whistle went and it had all been decidedly underwhelming.
We looked a bit more threatening in the opening minutes and I thought Embelton was about to bundle one in after a good cross by Hume but he was denied. Perhaps a half-time team-talk had had a positive effect for a change? All that was well and good but then Burton took the lead on the hour-mark when Matthews failed to hold a shot from Powell and Vernam was there to bang it in from close range. Burton smelled blood and started to put some pressure on us but we managed to weather that storm and fight back again. We were hoping to see a few fresh faces on but that didn't happen until twenty minutes to go when Grigg and Maguire came on for Embleton and Flanagan. We'd looked like we were never going to score but I didn't feel filled with hope. Instead of giving us some oomph we seem to deflate and Burton looked more likely to score if anything. Why didn't they bring McFadzean on? At least he's got pace and can beat a man. Grigg met an O'Nien cross well but his header came back off the right post and then he had another attempt that went not far wide. We equalised with six minutes to go when a Hume cross from the left was met by Power and his strong header hit the net. We pressed but failed to really threaten the Burton defence and despite three minutes of stoppage-time, it ended 1-1 and we also lost O'Nien to injury.
A battling draw after going behind? No, this was grim.