Sunderland travelled to Reading in low spirits as relegation was near enough 100% certain for Chris Coleman's men. Despite this, 1500 made the long trip south to the penultimate away game in this car crash of a season.
Lee Camp somehow retained his place in goal after several calamities during his spell on Wearside. Man of the moment Paddy McNair kept his fitness levels up enough to start but Joel Asoro could only make the bench. Marc Wilson started alongside Lamine Kone at centre half replacing the injured John O'Shea.
First Impressions and the Ground
I got the train from London to Reading which only took 30 minutes at most, this was the quickest and cheapest way after travelling down from the North East. My train to London was delayed due to a part falling off a passing steam train! I was pleasantly surprised by how nice the city centre was. Away fans gathered in the Three Guineas at the station and then in the Wetherspoon's just up the road.
Fans had a 40 minute walk to the ground or there was a bus service F1 from the station to the stadium car park, for a £2 return you couldn't go wrong.
The surrounding area of the Majeski Stadium was also pleasant and matched the regenerated central area. There was a burger fan right next to the away end and where the coaches parked. Inside there was, as usual, a selection of hot food such as standard pies and overpriced drinks.
After a few squandered chances from Ashley Fletcher, Reading capitalised against the run of play. John Dadi Bodvarsson nicked the ball after our supposed goalkeeper Lee Camp dropped a routine catch at the feet of the Iceland international. The Northern Irishman tried to reclaim the ball but instead sent the striker tumbling down. Liam Kelly smashed home the penalty to give the Royals the lead.
Not much else happened first half apart from Fletcher continuing to impersonate a footballer. The on loan Boro striker failed to take advantage of Paul Clement's side's shoddy defending.
An absolute firecracker from Paddy McNair just a few minutes into the second half made it all square. The midfielder smashed a shot in off the post from range leaving the goalkeeper, Vito Mannone, a helpless spectator.
An unlikely scorer then popped up with a header to give Sunderland a well deserved lead. Lee Cattermole knocked in Aiden McGeady's cross past former Mackem Mannone who managed to get a hand on the midfielder's header. Despite his earlier criticism, Fletcher grew into the game and seemed to play better in a leading side, like we saw at Derby, but that unfortunately that didn't last long.
Yann Kermorgant made sure the Berkshire club had a share of the spoils as he headed in Gunter's cross after coming off the bench. The big centre forward outjumped Donald Love before the ball sailed into the bottom corner past the stationary Camp. Despite this, Love had a good game and got a bit too much criticism I thought.
Well people - that pretty much confirms Blackpool away next season for us. The defeat leaves us six points adrift of safety and bottom of the division as Burton thrashed the Rams 3-1 at the Pirelli.
An unpopular opinion among some but Coleman is running a ticking time bomb, I appreciate he's got no money but surely he has sense? What makes him think that Max Stryjek or Josh Talbot are any worse than the calamity that is Camp? It was evident that the defence missed John O'Shea's leadership and in most areas of the pitch we looked all over the place - despite being the better team overall.
Saturday was a game there for the taking, an out of form side that played atrociously and we still managed to only get a draw; to be quite honest that's been the story of our season. That's why we're going down as well, the inability of players but more so the lack of desire to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and take it.
Thanks for reading and take care as we play Burton, the other near relegated club, on Saturday at the Stadium of Light.