I hope we start with the team we finished with on Tuesday night as until that mass substitution we were looking shaky. Will Grigg won’t be available for them today so we’ll be saved the sight of him finally getting a goal. It looks like MacFadzean will be out but I don’t know any other team-news at this early hour. I was at the corresponding match last season which seems a very long time ago now and this afternoon I’ll be watching the game with my Sunderland bubble as usual. I fancy us to win again so my match prediction is 2-1.
I got to the bubble about half an hour before kick-off and when I saw the team-news, I was pleased to see Vokins in for MacFadzean as well as McGeady, Gooch and O’Nien all starting. At the last minute Flanagan was replaced by Willis so presumably he was injured in the warm-up and Neil was promoted to the bench. The pitch, unsurprisingly, was looking rough. There was a minute’s applause for Captain Sir Tom and then we were off.
M.K. did most of the pressing in the opening stages but we took the lead in the fifth minute with a well-constructed moved started by the too-often maligned O’Neill who found the on-running McGeady. He put a great pass into the path of goal-machine Wyke who slotted it into the right-hand corner. It didn’t take long for M.K. to equalize and after Burge had done well to parry a close range effort Mason bundled it in from close range. We were living dangerously at the back, again, and Willis had to boot it out for a corner when a long chip caught us cold. Also too many of our passes were going astray. We paid the price for our sloppiness in the nineteenth minute when a low pass from their right from O’Reilly was slotted in from a yard out by the ever-dangerous Jerome. Apart from our goal we’d barely been in the match. Shortly afterwards we managed a good chance and Wyke had a decent effort on target but Fisher in goal saved it. We entered a decent patch and we won our first corner in the twenty-sixth minute. Just before the half-hour mark Wyke got into the box and had space but his shot went well over. Still, we were creating chances at last and I could feel a goal coming. Just after that Burge kept us in it, punching it away as we looked all over the place in a packed box. It was certainly going end to end and Power blasted a shot high and wide following a nice pass from McGeady. A minute later and it was Leadbitter’s turn to blast one high over the bar. Thompson went off injured with three minutes to the break and was replaced by Surman. It remained 2-1 as the whistle went and we’d done a lot better in the last twenty minutes so if we maintained that I felt at least one goal would come.
M.K. had a decent attack within thirty seconds of the restart but mercifully Jerome’s header went wide. O’Nien was yellow-carded three minutes in and it had been coming for a while. I thought Mason was going to put them further ahead but we managed to block it and M.K. had certainly started the half more brightly. In the fifty-sixth minute we were level and again McGeady was involved. His low shot from around the left angle of their box fell to O’Nien who swivelled in a Maja style and slotted the ball into the bottom right-hand corner. Cue great shouting in the bubble. We had a good shout for a penalty when a raised arm seemed to connect with the ball but referee Nield wasn’t interested. We surprisingly took off Gooch and brought on Jones midway through the half and I felt we could nick another goal as we were in the ascendency once more. Scowen replaced O’Nien with a quarter of an hour left and no doubt this was because Luke was sailing a bit close to the wind in the red card department. Jones was certainly showing his pace and the M.K. defenders resorted to fouls to stop him on a couple of occasions. We made a double switch with about five minutes left as Volkins was replaced by Sanderson and O’Brien by Maguire. Fisher made a good stop to deny McGeady as we went for it in the closing minutes and when five minutes of stoppage-time were announced, a win was a real possibility. Power took a Beckhamesque free-kick from around the half-way line but it went wide of the right post. We were passing it backwards not forwards in the closing minute but in the final few seconds McGeady had a great chance blocked...
An away point is all well and good but we were very patchy here and when are we going to stop passing sideways and backwards so much?