SAFC 2-1 Blackpool (A)

SAFC end a tumultuous week in which two players proved to be something the fans didn’t know they were. Darren Bent is money-grabbing arse, and Kieran Richardson actually quite decent.

As expected, SAFC started in a 4-5-1, although what did go against expectation was Richardson in the hole behind Gyan as opposed to Malbranque. It was also a huge plus to see DJ Campbell out for Blackpool with an illness as he simply can’t stop scoring against us.

Sunderland started off brightly, and with the game barely 5 minutes old Henderson’s cross was met by Gyan who headed over from close range.

Blackpool could have had the lead too, Gary Taylor-Fletcher charging down Craig Gordon’s clearance after Ferdinand had played a half-arsed back pass.

However it was the boys in red and white who took the lead in the 15th minute. Gyan playing a fantastic, defence splitting ball that had the Blackpool backline at 6’s and 7’s, and Kieran Richardson slotted into the bottom corner past an outstretched Kingson.

Gyan’s ball wasn’t the best thing about the goal though, Richardson in celebration pulling out a shin-pad with the message "DB Who? £"... apparently. I’m still waiting on photographic proof.

For a few hairy minutes Blackpool pushed on, Varney firing straight at Gordon when put through 1 on 1, Adam forcing the Scottish stopper into a fine tip over the bar, and finally Matt Phillips firing low and at Gordon.

The perfect time for SAFC to double the lead, and they did. Zenden’s hoof held up well by Gyan, the ball falling to a rampaging Malbranque down the left, who in turn squared the ball for the on-rushing Richardson, and finished neatly under Kingson.

Cue the chants from a delirious away end of "Who the f*ck is Darren Bent?"

It was only a couple of minutes for Richardson could have had a hat-trick. Kingson, as he did at the Stadium of Light in December dwelling on the ball and our new hero almost robbed him for a third SAFC goal.

The lads headed back into the dressing room at half time no doubt delighted, everybody playing very well thus far, and showing lots of unity as a team.

Second half started much scrappier, with more injuries than chances. Crainey limped off for the hosts after clashing with Elmohamady, and goalkeeper Kingson being forced from the field after an accidental clash with Zenden. The Ghanaian was replaced by Paul Rachubka.

With half an hour to go Ian Holloway went for broke. With 3 strikers already on the pitch, he added massive lump Marlon Harewood into the mix for the ineffectual Elliot Grandin.

At the same time though, worryingly for SAFC Bardsley pretty much substituted himself. To be honest, I didn’t see much wrong, so can only imagine it’s muscular. Surprisingly he was replaced by young Jack Colback, who slotted in at left-back as opposed to his more natural central midfield. He did a decent job actually, but it speaks volumes about how much Bruce rates Angeleri, who sat on the bench playing with his hair instead no doubt.

For a few minutes both teams exchanged decent efforts. Harewood going close for Blackpool, having done well to fend off Titus Bramble. Jordan Henderson for Sunderland, with a little dipped volley over the bar.

As the game pushed towards a finale, Blackpool upped the tempo as SAFC sat deep. Several shots and scrappy chances went begging before the hosts ‘won’ a penalty.

Having spent a lot of the game going to ground easily, referee Lee Mason eventually pointed to the spot when David Vaughan went down without a challenge from any SAFC player, and Charlie Adam put it low beyond the diving Craig Gordon. Shame for Gordon, as his performance today certainly deserved a clean sheet.

Obviously from then the Tangerines piled the bodies into the box in hope of an equaliser, backed by a noisy crowd, Ian Evatt curling an effort from distance, and Neal Eardley nodding a corner wide.

Six minutes was the time the fourth official decreed would be added on, and although it was nervy, SAFC hung on, and got a much needed win.

The players celebrating in front of the travelling support, and sending somebody home with the rather unusual souvenir of Asamoah Gyan’s shorts, which he threw into the crowd.

Ratings:

01 Gordon – 9/10 – Some superb stops from the Scot which kept us in it at times.
02 Bardsley – 8/10 – Having another strong game before going off injured.
03 Richardson – 9/10 – Could well have been his best game in an SAFC shirt.
07 Zenden – 7/10 – Fairly quiet, but kept things ticking over.
08 Malbranque – 7/10 – Typical Steed, dominant first half, quiet second.
10 Henderson – 7/10 – Fairly quiet, much like Zenden.
15 Onouha – 7/10 – Strong all game.
19 Bramble – 8/10 – Good captains performance, not much got past him.
27 Elmohamady – 7/10 – Good in the first half, but disappeared in the second.
29 Ferdinand – 7/10 – Apart from that back pass was solid yet again.
33 Gyan – 9/10 – Lead the line superbly, and didn’t miss Bent at all.

Subs:

25 Colback – 7/10 – Did well for a youngster out of position.
16 Riveros – 6/10 – Barely touched the ball.

All in all a very good, and solid team performance from Sunderland, and with the way the other results went today, we gain a stronger grip on 6th position, 7 points clear of the chasing pack.

All that can be said as we march on towards Europe is... Darren who?

KTF

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