Forest striker shows Sunderland were right to dodge summer reunion & four more thoughts on 1-0 win

There's something uniquely satisfying about snatching a single-goal victory on the

by Brandon_Rawlin Sunday, 31 December 2017 10:13 AM Comments
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There's something uniquely satisfying about snatching a single-goal victory on the road against a side who had 22 shots against our paltry one - one which ultimately counted.  

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So Sunderland clamber out of the Championship bottom three with only the club's sixth league win of 2017. The Black Cats have lost 23 games this calendar year but capped an otherwise dismal 12 months with a strangely satisfying victory over Nottingham Forest. Here's to better times in 2018 and here's our thoughts coming away from the game. 

Daryl Murphy is still mediocre

When Daryl Murphy returned to haunt Sunderland earlier this season, many of us rued the fact we hadn't been in for a striker of his repute for scoring goals at this level. That September evening had seen Simon Grayson's men have the better of the encounter against Forest but were punished with a late strike scored by the ex-Black Cat. 

Murphy was linked with a move back to Sunderland - the club he left seven years ago - during the summer before he eventually signed for Forest in a reported £2m-deal. 

But if Sunderland fans had been wondering what we'd missed out on, Murphy put on a show in the first half to suggest it probably isn't too much. The 34-year-old would have had a hat-trick if he had been able to put away just half the great chances he had to score as he put on the proverbial barn door performance. 

Indeed, after starting the season with six goals in his first 10 appearances, Murphy has returned to the form he found at Sunderland with only one strike since late September. The Irishman only managed fourteen goals in over 120 appearances during his five seasons at the Stadium of Light. A reunion was probably a bad idea anyway. 

Aren't Forest fans quiet? 

If you think the Stadium of Light has resembled a morgue this season, the silence at the City Ground yesterday was notable. With the 2,000 travelling Sunderland fans all too aware of how important the game was, the lads in pale blue on the pitch were urged on in every tackle, pass and dribble by those in the away end. 

They may be in the midst of a poor run of form - one win in seven - but the 25,000 Forest fans sat stony faced for most of the afternoon. It would prove to be a bad sign for under pressure boss Mark Warburton, who's been sacked this morning. 

Communicative in a settling defence

On paper, Sunderland's two 'best' defenders have been missing for large parts of this improved run of form at the back. Lamine Kone and Bryan Oviedo may yet have admirers in the January transfer window but at this rate they may struggle to regain a starting spot anyway. 

Chris Coleman was quick to hail the communication between his defenders and Wilson, Browning and O'Shea seem to be slowly developing the nous to play in a coordinated three-man centre back system. Adam Matthews continues to look a better left back than he is right back and even Donald Love managed to put in one of his best performances in a Sunderland shirt. 

Robbin Ruiter certainly isn't commanding nor is he particularly communicative with the defenders in front of him, but he is another to be growing in assurance of late. The back six are becoming something of a settled feature with occasional tweaks and it continues to pay dividends with three clean sheets in the last seven. 

Good to see McGeady smiling again

He hasn't looked the same since Ireland crashed out of the World Cup qualifying play-offs in November and Simon Grayson was sacked a few days earlier, but it was good to see Aiden McGeady back on song and smiling again after his goal. 

Chris Coleman has indicated he will continue to change systems to suit the personnel available and McGeady surely still has a big role to play for Sunderland this season. 

The 'C' word

Most of us have called Sunderland's players worse than **** this season and every facet of their desire, application and attitude has been poured over. But suddenly, barring the shocker on Boxing Day when none of them turned up, Chris Coleman's personnel are, dare we say it, beginning to show a little back-bone. Say it quietly but the 'C' word was on display yesterday - Character. Who would have thought. 

The challenge now is to keep it going - with Monday's home game against Barnsley another big one in front of a Stadium of Light crowd who will be hopeful, perhaps even expectant, that Sunderland can get a result. 

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