I have a lot of respect for the Sheff Wed fans, they came in their numbers, and they created a great atmosphere throughout the game and showed that their loyalty outweighs their team’s skill and performance. Sheff Wed are a very poor team and can only name a few of their starting eleven with prior knowledge of them before the game started. It shows how relegation and lack of ambition/money has affected them in the past five years.
Before the game started, we knew this game was a must win and we have the squad to well simply, destroy this mediocre team, well we thought this about the Leicester game, and it came back to haunt us. This performance overall was solid but there is a large room for improvement and I think Keano will be the first to admit this. The job was done, we have collected another three points that we have been starved of in the past seasons, so we should be thankful for this win, but the bigger picture is how we need to keep winning and taking a lot more of our gilt-edged chances.
I thought the team selection was made with the intention to keep changing throughout the 90 minutes to revolve certain players around the pitch and this seemed to work. Dwight Yorke was classed as “outstanding” by Keano, but I beg to differ on this, as he had a poor game. He showed flashes of intelligence on the ball and a little bit of creativity, but he too often lost possession in dangerous areas, and never played to the whistle. Instead Yorke was on the floor or just running back not looking interested as Daryl Murphy who ran his socks off until he was later substituted for Chris Brown.
I was surprised with Arnau still not being included in the squad; it makes you wonder if he has done something to the manager to be left out after such a glowing report in his first game. Lawrence was drifted onto the right for the recently quite Miller and had a decent game and assisted the goal with a lovely cross in for Leadbitter in the 2nd half.
The opening 15 minutes of the game was dominated largely by Sunderland with a host of good chances being spurned by Yorke who had a weak shot saved. And after a hugely promising game from Nyron, his delivery was headed over by Toby Hysen who should have done a lot better with his head.
This seemed to be the story of the game, Sunderland running the game possession wise but not being able to punish Sheff Wed with poor finishing. The amount of corners that we created but wasted must have been above 10. Every single header, mostly from Varga and Collins were all headed over the bar without testing Brad Jones.
Just before the break at half time, another encouraging run down the left from Hysen led to a cross which unfortunately bounced off the top of the bar and going out for a goal kick. Hysen played excellently and showed exactly why we paid money for him; his game was affected by poor linesman and referee decisions saying he was offside when he clearly wasn’t on one or two occasions.
Keano continued the second half without any substitutions and continued for that crucial goal. Sunderland who were kicking towards the away end for a change again started brightly and more missed headers from corners were visible from the start. A bright move changed the move at the SoL as Yorke found Lawrence on the right who crossed in for Leadbitter who took the goal very well as he side footed into the bottom corner. RELIEF!
Hysen was substituted in the 73rd min for Liam Miller, and early reports seem to suggest he may have picked up an injury, lets hope the recent injury jinx does not continue to ravage our depleted squad. Lets hope with the international break it will bring back new faces and help fitness for others, Yorke in particular.
The “Sunderland Syndrome” kicked in near to the end of the game, lets give as many corners and chances to the opposition in the last five minutes and see what happens. The amount of times I have seen this in games where we are cruising or battling for points and we offer corners so easily is becoming a bit of a trend. A great save from both Alnwick and Collins kept the score at 1-0 and luckily we held on to take our league tally points to 13.