Like everyone else I was very disappointed with last Saturday’s result and performance so I’m looking forward to tonight’s match in the hope that we can erase that bad memory. Perhaps our very lacklustre display was partly due to the long lay-off and also to Covid but they’ve had a week to sort themselves out. We should be able to choose from the majority of our players apart from O’Nien and Grigg, not that I want to see the latter in our side again. It looks like his injury wasn’t anywhere near as bad as first thought so maybe we can sell him during this window so everyone will be happy, including Will. I usually don’t take much notice of all the transfer speculation at this time of year but I like the sound of Forest Green midfielder Carl Winchester. Honeyman has become a fans’ favourite at Hull so I hope he has an off game this evening. Hull are currently in second spot but have lost three out of their last four league games. As some of our immediate rivals aren’t playing today, a win could move us up three or four places so that’s a good incentive. I’ll be watching the match with my bubble in Sunderland and my match prediction is a 2-1 win.
I got the team-news about an hour before kick-off and both Wyke and McFadzean were starting while Maguire was on the bench. I could see the glow from the SoL as I approached my bubble’s home. Other results had gone well for us with Ipswich losing at home and Lincoln drawing with Peterborough. We had a minute’s silence before kick-off to remember those members of the Sunderland family who’d died in the previous year.
Diamond was looking tricky down the right wing and he won us our first corner a couple of minutes in but almost immediately Burge got an eye injury when he dived at the feet of Wilks, who didn’t make much of an effort to jump over him. There was a pause for at least four minutes while Burge received attention and then he was able to continue, for the time being at any rate. A minute or so later McGeady fouled Honeyman and from the resultant free-kick Burge completely fluffed his save and it fell to Burke who smashed it home to put Hull one-up. You had to wonder whether Burge could really see properly and we wondered if Johnson would sub him immediately. He didn’t and we were looking very shaky at the back as Hull pressed strongly. We weathered the storm and in the twenty-first minute we were level with a well-worked goal. A Leadbitter free-kick in their half came to Diamond on the right of their box who lobbed it across and McGeady leaped to put a well-placed header into the right of the net. We were still looking well shaky down our right and we escaped when a free header from Eaves hit the bar. Burge made a great save just after the half-hour mark so his eyesight must have recovered. Hull somehow escaped unpunished a few minutes later when goalkeeper Long flattened Diamond right on the edge of the box. Eaves was subbed shortly before the break due to injury and I was glad to see him go. There was clearly going to be a good deal of stoppage-time so there was no surprise when seven minutes were announced. Not much happened in added time apart from Honeyman being yellow carded for mouthing off after conceding a free-kick. It remained 1-1 at the break and we’d managed to really get back into it after looking very much at sea when we went behind.
Matthews had taken over from Burge and Gooch was on for McLaughlin when we kicked off again. I always like to see Gooch on and I hoped he could give us some more oomph – there’d been too many hopeful high balls so far. We started off with more tenacity than we’d shown and were winning back more lost balls. We won a couple of corners about ten minutes in and it felt like a goal was coming. Instead Hull had a sudden good spell and Matthews was looking solid as he held a corner and saved a Honeyman header. With a quarter of an hour left we made a triple substitution with Maguire, Graham and Embleton coming on for Diamond, Wyke and McGeady, such a change from the Parkinson era. There was still plenty of time for either side to nick the winner and they were both going for it. Time was ticking away too fast and in my bubble we began to settle for a draw. There were three minutes of stoppage-time and the game was still in the balance. Wilks had a good shot that McFadzean put out for a corner and that was the last real action of the game.
I’m feeling a bit disappointed but also relieved as after we’d gone behind it was looking like we were going to be well beaten.