Following the worryingly abject draw played out against fellow promotion contenders Ipswich in the League, tonight’s fixture gives Jack Ross some much needed room to experiment with personal and perhaps, hopefully, formation.
The Story So Far
We are only entering the third week of competitive football for the new season and already alarm bells are beginning to ring on Wearside. Sunderland struggled against the pacey-counter attack of a decent Oxford side on the opening weekend. This was then followed up with one of the worst 45 minutes that Sunderland fans have been exposed to against a determined and freshly relegated Ipswich.
The Tractor Boys revelled in taking advantage of Sunderland’s disorganisation, regularly cutting open our newly installed back three in front of a bumper home crowd at Portman Road.
Sunderland’s faithful are rightly worried about the performances that have been on display so far, but we’re only at the start of the season so let’s keep with that feel of fresh optimism. Tonight presents Ross the chance to make some changes with not much pressure. Everyone involved with red and white knows the big one comes on Saturday when our League One nemesis rolls into town in the form of Pompey.
But, if we solely focus on the task at hand tonight’s game against Accrington in the cup comes at the perfect time. Ross gets the chance to stick or twist under relatively less pressure and scrutiny than he has experienced so far.
Most fans will be hoping that he ditches his seemingly doomed and unworkable back three while others feel a change of personnel might bring a positive difference (the manager not included in these thoughts!).
Sunderland can of course take comfort in the fact that the Wham Stadium proved a fruitful hunting ground during their last visit as Accrington felt the full force of what Sunderland’s players can be capable of, smashing Stanley with an impressive 3-0 win after the disappointment of falling short in the Checkatrade final at Wembley.
Accrington on the other hand could probably do with some more competitive minutes, but thanks to Bury’s ongoing financial difficulties which has seen their opening fixtures rearranged, John Coleman’s side have only managed an underwhelming 2-0 loss to newly promoted Lincoln. In fairness to Accrington, they did see a player sent off in controversial fashion, the referee seeing fit to dismiss the player and hand out a penalty which The Imps tucked away.
This gives us little to analyse in what to expect, but they are a little hamstrung with injuries to important players, but then so is the Sunderland squad, providing little excuse for either side.
Ross is hoping that tonight’s game presents an opportunity for him to finally get his attacking formula right, as he admitted himself that Sunderland drawing blanks in front of goal is a source of great personal frustration.
“We want to start winning games again because we were frustrated last week and then again on Saturday.
“We were pleased with bits on Saturday and in our opening game against Oxford United, but we know we need to start winning games.
“Tuesday’s game will give us the chance to get players on the pitch who haven’t had the chance to get many minutes so far this season.
“It will help us assess where we are fitness-wise from Saturday’s game."
He went on to reflect specifically on the game against Ipswich;
“It was a tough match against a side that has just dropped out of the Championship.
“There was an intense atmosphere inside Portman Road and we put a lot into the game so we will have to assess how the players are before making a decision on our line-up for Tuesday’s game.”
Accrington manager John Coleman is hoping that the chance to play on the brand new pitch in front of a home crowd will motivate his side to a solid performance tonight.
“I’m glad to get back on home soil and play a game at the Wham Stadium, obviously with the new pitch.
“It’s an added incentive for us to enjoy it and we’ll only enjoy it if we can get a positive result, so that’s what we’ll be aiming to do.
“It’s going to be difficult we know that, we had a couple of good games against them last year and what we’ve got to try and do now is put the disappointment of the Lincoln game behind us and try and kick on.
“As I said it’s going to be a tough game, but we’ve got players who are realising the way we play now.
“We have to learn from it, and hopefully the players will learn from it, I know the players are dying to get back out onto the pitch and try and write a few wrongs from that game.”