He likes his changes does Roy. No fewer than 6 new faces brought in for todays game through a combination of injury, suspension or just being rubbish. It’s fair enough, he’s still finding out about a lot of the players and there’s some (Arnau, Welsh, Ward) that he still hasn’t seen yet. He had largely kept faith with the nucleus of the side that played his first game at Derby but the Ipswich performance obviously put paid to that and the likes of Elliott, Brown, Collins N. and Miller were dropped. In came some of the forgotten men in Nosworthy, Lawrence, Collins D. and Leadbitter. It was good to see some of them get another chance. Others were perhaps a little fortunate to.
First half started well and continued that way. Crisp passing, possession was kept well and the ball was moved round well enough to create several decent chances. The best of which was a free header 6 yards out that Hysen put over the bar and with the last kick of the half Dwight Yorke put a one-on-one with the keeper miles wide. A half-time lead would have been well deserved. Lawrence was a threat down the right, Nosworthy ‘entertained’ as ever and Hysen looks very good with the ball at his feet. He is able to beat his man and able to put in a good cross. It was a marked improvement from the team on the Ipswich and Leicester games and was a welcome return to form.
They always say, however, that you need to score when you’re on top so it was important that we started the 2nd half with the same tempo, which we largely did. Whitehead struck the post with a nice shot after creating room for himself but as time went on Wednesday sat back, happy with the draw, which left little room in behind their defence. It did however allow our centre backs to break well into their half. Varga and Cunningham are clearly not very comfortable with doing that but, willed on by the crowd, it was a Varga foray that created the goal. He strode well into the Wednesday half, fed the ball to Lawrence on the right who put in a nice cross that was converted by the on-running Leadbitter. While you always felt that Sunderland would score the more it went on the more anxious everyone was so it was a very welcome goal at the right time (if there is a wrong time to score a goal)
Wednesday are another average side that were once a big club. They have no recognisable names and are now just a very average Championship side. They do however still get very good crowds and had excellent support with them today. It was a welcome sight in this division and a reminder that just because you’ve a nice stadium and loads of fans doesn’t mean you can’t fall into obscurity (A fate that may have befallen us this season had Quinny not saved the day)
After that we seemed to get a little nervous and squander possession too easy as is the Sunderland way in recent times. The 2nd goal would have been ideal but was never really on the cards as Sheff Wed found an extra gear in search of the equaliser and Sunderland were only really interested in keeping them out. The last 5 minutes brought about a couple of close efforts from them but the final whistle was seen in with relative comfort.
Finally a word on Dwight Yorke. Opinion, bizarrely is sharply divided on him it seems with some labelling him lazy, slow, not interested and past it. Others, me included, see that he is 3 streets ahead in class compared to everyone else in the team. Everything went through him today; he created a few good opportunities and always seems to have an extra second on the ball – the mark of a good player. He’s not going to run down the flanks for 90 minutes, he’s not going to chase the keeper down and he’s not going to get back for corners. But that’s not why he’s playing. He did give the ball away a couple of times but so did every other player. It seems that some fans would rather have Chris Brown in the team running round like a headless chicken than Dwight Yorke. And that’s a little sad.
So, a win was important today, not only to keep us in touch but also to put to bed a few of the doubts after the Leicester and Ipswich games. It would take a very good run to get an automatic promotion place (although everyone is beating everyone else it seems) but the play-offs are more than realistic. Early days still.
Man of the match – Dwight Yorke
Report by marcopaul