Updated: Jul 21
Morecambe made their first league trip to Wearside and were comprehensively swept aside as the Lads found their scoring boots, with Stewart’s opener followed by a brace from Broadhead, one in each half, and strikes from Pritch and Dajaku. A dominant performance that pushed us a couple of places up the table and did our goal difference the world of good made for a very pleasant evening's entertainment.
The weather was a lot better than it had been earlier in the day, when it had been officially described as filthy, meaning that a lot of folks had a few to many layers on. An unchanged line up of…
Wright Doyle Flanagan Gooch
With Patterson, Kimpioka, Younger, Embleton, O’Brien, Alves, and Dunne on the bench.
Morecambe set things away towards the North stand, backed by a decent number of noisy Shrimps, who blotted their copybook in the second half – but more of that later. We seemed to line up initially with a flat back four, with Gooch at left back and Wright on the right.
The opening exchanges were a bit scrappy as both sides settled into the game, then, once we’d worked out the way past the visitors, set about them with relish. We won three corners in the opening four minutes. Morecambe managed to deal with them, until a clearance dropped to Gooch in the middle of their half. He dodged his man then picked out Broadhead, and with the crowd halfway out of their seats in anticipation, their keeper tipped his goal-bound shot round the post – for another corner. Tis one was only partially cleared to the far corner of the box, where Wright channelled his inner Dennis Tueart and produced a spectacular scissor kick that zipped inches over the bar. If ever there was an indication of a good night’s goalscoring, that sort of thing from a solid defender is it.
Gooch was finding plenty of opportunity to get forward, meaning that we’d almost reverted to three at the back with in the first ten minutes, but we had to be alert at the other end when it became apparent that their front men had a bit about them, and Ayunga was certainly faster than Flan. Thankfully, when he got into our box, we had enough bodies to block the shot. We then won the ball back in the middle of the park, and got it to Gooch on the left. He had two defenders in close attendance, but showed all the strength absent on Saturday when he was at fault for Oxford’s goal to muscle his way through their attempted challenges and get near the by-line. From there, He aimed a low cross to the near post, where Stewart stuck out a leg that Inspector Gadget would have been proud of, and prodded it between the keeper and the post for the opener. Twelve minutes in, and the lead was no more than we deserved.
Without giving Morecambe much of a sniff of the ball, we went two up barely five minutes later. Hugging the left touchline, Gooch received the ball and this time used trickery rather than power to get past his man with a clever feint, once again getting near the line but this time putting his cross perfectly onto the brow of Broadhead, who thumped his header beyond the helpless keeper. Smashing goal, and one that had the Morecambe defence wondering how to deal with Gooch, who was clearly out to make amends for the weekend – and the crowd got behind him. Every time we got near the Shrimpers’ box, the crowed boomed for us to shoot, and we tried our best to work and opportunity. Pritch and Dajaku were working well to create space to get the ball in from the right, but our next effort came from a central position, where Neil did well to work enough space for a shot that flashed a foot wide of the keeper’s left hand post.
We then got a little bit sloppy, with both Wright letting their concentration drop for a second before Dajaku followed suit, and he allowed a throw to result in a cross that found Wildig who nipped behind Gooch, but somehow lifted his effort from a couple of yards out over the bar. A bit of a let-off, and a bit of a wake-up call to maintain our concentration. That was swiftly followed by Morecambe putting it in, but there was an offside call – another let-off, another wake-up call.
Enough of that, we thought, and Dajaku was away down the right again, this time aiming his low cross to Stewart at the front post, but the ball was a tad too close and the Loch Ness Drogba was over the top of it when he got his shot away and it went the wrong side of the post. As we passed the half hour we were well on top, and should really have increased our lead, given the amount of forward play we had. Morecambe were packing their defence and allowing us time on the ball in the build-up, but not in the really dangerous areas. This meant that we tried out luck from distance, with Gooch’s effort across the goal the best we could muster, but the keeper was equal to that one.
Two added minutes were announced and we maintained our dominance through them to send us in well worth the two-goal lead.
We made no changes for the second half, but the visitors decided to shake things up by taking off Wildig, presumably for that awful miss, and Gnahoua, and replacing them with Diagouraga and Duffus. Really? Yes, really. The former (I’m not typing that again) actually had a decent effort not long after the restart, but we soon regained control of things.
Stewart created a chance of his own by rampaging down the right and getting into the box, but the angle got a bit narrow and the keeper was able to block the shot. We quickly regained possession, and thankfully ignored my plea to swing a leg and get it crossed, as Neil stayed as cool as Micky Bridges in a fridge, resisted the temptation to whack in across, and rolled it to Pritch on the edge of the area. From them, it was planted firmly into the corner of the net low to the keeper’s left for our third and Pritch’s first home goal – just reward for another industrious display. Three up and well over thirty minutes to go – that’ll do for me, but not Brian in the next seat – the last time he’d brought his wife we’d won 5-0, so a repeat was the target as she was present again. By this time we’d reverted to three across the back with Gooch playing further up the field as the opposition had completely given up on pushing us back and thus giving those three at the back plenty of time and space to pick their targets in midfield or either flank.
Two minutes later, Winchester was given a deserved rest when he was replaced by Embleton in a like-for-like swap, and Embo quickly settled into the game – although it was the Shrimpers who had the next effort, forcing Hoff down to his left to collect a header. It was at this point that the Shrimps up a height in the north stand went from boisterous to daft, lobbing a smoke bomb down into the home fans. It took a good ten minutes for the authorities to work out who’d done it and hoy them out, during which time it got worse for their team.
As if in an act of retribution, Broadhead kept his head, as we had shots blocked, to twist and turn in the right side of their box, and as all around flung themselves about the place, he fired in a low fourth on 68 minutes. This had us deciding we’d probably win, and in that case could afford to give Stewart a rest – but Ayunga had other ideas, clattering into our centre-forward’s back on halfway to leave our man on the deck and himself in the ref’s notebook. After a bit of treatment, Ross was back in the fray, with nobody warming up to replace him, so he continued to battle away, combining well with Embo to get Dajaku moving down the right a couple of times. He only had another four minutes to play, as he and Broadhead, jobs very well done, were replaced by O’Brien and Kimpioka. We quickly reprised the opening minutes of the game by winning three corners, with the visiting defence beginning to creak at every Sunderland foray into their penalty area.
After taking a couple of minutes to warm into things, Kimpioka produced a blistering burst of speed to carry him into the left of the box and to the by-line, with his cross causing havoc before it was cleared. He was at it again soon after, taking a pass from Gooch with four minutes left and driving into the box. The ball ended up with O’Brien, who got it to Dajaku at the far side, and he took a deep breath, as he’d looked knackered for a little while, and cut inside onto his left peg to whack a shot goalwards. It struck a defender on the head, looped up into the night sky, and dropped from height onto the line, bouncing in for the fifth. The look on their keeper’s face was fabulous, but a touch of fortune like that would have been welcome against Oxford. Three added minutes were announced, in which Kimpioka charged down the keeper’s clearance only for it to fly off his backside and just past the post. A goal in that fashion would probably had had poor Letheren in tears, but it would have been pure dead brilliant for it to have gone in.
Then it was all over, Mrs Henderson’s five goal victory was repeated, and we were very happy crowd as we sang in celebration and LJ made a point of waving and applauding every part of the home crowd. As we left the ground, the police presence outside the away turnstiles showed that the visitors weren’t happy – either that or some of the smokebombees weren’t happy either.
Man of the Match? Another industrious and generally effective game by Pritch, great stuff from Broadhead, and - well, a couple of momentary lapses apart, no dodgy performances anywhere. For his first-half performance alone, it has to go to Gooch. It just goes to show what the crowd getting behind a player can do. In fact, let’s do a Jooolio and call him Gooooooch tonight.