An impressive win against promotion hopefuls Doncaster Rovers on Friday got the Black Cats own ambitions of going up right back on track, so can Jack Ross’s men bring three precious points back to Wearside from the ABAX Stadium?
I can’t have been the only Sunderland fan that was disheartened by the Coventry result. At home in front of a bumper crowd, promotion rivals slipping up, Sunderland had a real chance to put some point between them and third placed Barnsley. The subsequent horror show which fans were treat to was almost beyond belief. We scored goals but jesus-wept, what was going through the minds of centre back pairing Tom Flanagan and Jack Baldwin is simply beyond me. It was a kamikaze of a defensive performance and would probably draw a few laughs if someone digitally able enough used the Benny Hill theme to accompany the highlights of their play.
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I was actually dreading the thought of having to see Flanagan and Baldwin attempt to manage one of the division’s deadliest marksman in John Marquis.
Step forward Alim Ozturk and Jimmy Dunne. The pair which haven’t played much (or in Ozturk’s case hadn’t started a league game since the summer) but there didn’t seem to be much rust which needed shaking off. Both were dependable and inspired confidence in their team mates, it was very much a no-frills, old school defensive performance. Both won their headers, both were physical and difficult and most importantly, if there wasn’t a simple pass on to the waiting Max Power or Lee Cattermole they simply cleared their lines.
This ruined any Doncaster attempts at building pressure around the Sunderland box, Marquis and his excellent movement was well marshalled by Ozturk and Dunne leaving Rovers with little attacking options when they were in the Sunderland third of the pitch. With most of Sunderland’s attacking build up starting patiently with Cattermole and Power, Doncaster had to retreat into their own half to manage the attacking threat of McGeady, Morgan and Honeyman with Charlie Wyke more than occupying the keeper and centre backs.
This proved too much for Rovers and Sunderland deservedly took the three points, sending a message to Barnsley and Portsmouth (who absolutely robbed Burton Albion) in the process.
Posh sit one place and four points outside of the playoff places in League One and will be hoping to put pressure on sixth placed Doncaster with a win today. Darren Ferguson seemed to have his men set for a late surge to push his team into the playoff places with three straight, but a disappointing draw with Fleetwood Town last time out have dented their hoped and momentum.
The draw against Fleetwood would have stung Posh as Sunderland linked Marcus Maddison had earlier missed a penalty, and to concede so late on to give up two vital points in the race for promotion would have been particularly demoralising just as Ferguson’s men looked to go on a good run of form.