Sunderland fans are rightly nervous following a hard fought draw against Burton Albion and being on the wrong end of a nine goal thriller with Coventry City. The Wearsiders have by far the hardest run of fixtures of all the sides competing for the top two spots in the League table. A win over a Doncaster side who are full of confidence following four straight wins would go some way to settling down those promotion jitters.
The story so far?
Sunderland were undone by a pacey Coventry City who are fighting for a playoff place. The alarming manner in which our back four managed to ship 5 goals and how simple it was for the Coventry front three to pull our defence out of shape was cause for concern for many a fan last weekend. What stung the most was that Coventry weren’t producing a performance of the season or playing out of their skins.
Simple movement and direct pace managed to undo the already hapless central defenders in Baldwin and Flanagan, who at times look so out of sorts they resemble the chuckle brothers trying to move someone into a new house. I really can’t stress enough just how bad the pair were, Flanagan’s form in particular taking an alarming dip recently.
The blame cannot be laid solely on the shoulders of those at the heart of the defence, with each of our full backs getting caught far too high up the pitch. Fan favourite Luke O’Nien being caught out on numerous occasions as he neglected his defensive duties in order to support those ahead of him. The midfield pairing of Power and Leadbitter did not work at all, neither providing enough going forward to link play effectively or shielding the error prone back four from the counter attacking threat of Coventry’s front three.
Sunderland may have scored four goals, but they mainly came from out of favour Bryan Oviedo’s crosses and Coventry mistakes, Wyke and Grigg managing to capitalise on goal keeping errors. And to top it all off the injured Aiden McGeady who shouldn’t have been anywhere near the bench was the man to equalise for Sunderland for the final time to make it 4-4. I must admit my admiration for Aiden McGeady has grown exponentially of late, the man has a fire inside him to get us promoted and really cares about the club and fans with his passion really shining through in his performances.
Doncaster have enjoyed some excellent form of late, comfortably winning their last four and scoring plenty to go with it. They put four past Bristol Rovers, three past Walsall, a singular goal was enough to beat relegation threatened Bradford City and then they stuck a double on Plymouth. These are all teams you would expect a promotion chasing Donny side to put to bed, but their recent form becomes all the more impressive when they’ve been on a run of losses and draws which started all the way back in February after Crystal Palace knocked them out of the FA Cup.
A win at the Stadium of Light today would surely book Doncaster’s playoff place to compete for promotion and would mark an historic first win on Wearside since 1954.