Great Defending

In the absence of easy access to a game involving any club we actively support, we made the short trip to The Stadium of Light to see Sunderland versus Premiership underdogs Blackpool on the bank holiday. Ian Holloway’s management ethic is easy to like, and the Tangerines are living a dream, a bubble they hope will never burst, and of course Sunderland have been having a great season so far, particularly invincible at home.

Great prospect. And the best game we’ve seen in a long time. (Since Leeds won at Boro, or Reading won at Anfield.) End to end passing and running from both teams for all but 15 mins towards the end of the first half. Sunderland had 30 odd shots and Ian Evatt the Blackpool No.6 must have calmly stopped more than half of them himself. Sadly for Sunderland, all of those attempts on target that eluded the defence seemed aimed close to keeper Kingson’s body. The seasiders passed the ball and ran to make themselves available for forward passes everywhere on the pitch – you could almost hear Jack Charlton screaming at them to just hoof it out of defense once in a while, but no, not until the final 10 minutes did they resort to that. Even Evatt’s headed clearances were more often than not passes to feet. In fact both teams passed and ran in attacking directions throughout, Gyan, Bent, Elmohamady, Wellbeck, plus Richardson and Malbranque when they came, on all “looked dangerous” but failed to convert the Sunderland chances they created.

Conversely the lively DJ converted half of Backpool’s mere 4 chances.

Who are ya ? Twice people around us without match programs leaned across and asked, “Who is that No6?”. Well player of the season twice at Chesterfield under Roy MacFarland, and in his 4th season in the Blackpool defense, he’s not exactly unknown outside the premiership. The 29 year old Evatt made his first full 90 minute debut for Derby on the last day of the 2001/2 season … at The Stadium of Light.

Irony was the bumbling Titus Bramble making a return from recurring injury at the other end for Sunderland alongside the other Ferdinand boy. Never impressed with Bramble since the Ipswich fans were raving about him wayback, when Reading visited Portman Road. Actually, I reckon Sunderland having to replace the excellent Onuoha with Bramble after only half an hour was probably the difference between the sides. Evatt for England ?

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