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Match Report: Burnley 1-0 Sunderland - 90 Wasted Minutes

Ji Dong Won (18) the only good thing about the game.
Ji Dong Won (18) the only good thing about the game.

In a journey that saw us take in the delights of Stockport, Bolton, Blackburn and eventually Burnley itself, like many fans by half-time we were wishing we hadn't bothered.

I expected a firm test. Burnley start their season next week (I think) and we're still 'playing for fitness' anyone will tell you, but there was no level of fitness that could have been gained from this game that they couldn't have got from a 90 minute run along Seaburn beach such was the level of performance shown by the lads.

The game itself was pretty rubbish, but I'm duty bound to report on it. So here we go...

Bruce went 4-4-2 once again, proving we can't really second guess him as we all expect 4-4-1-1 to be the future. Keiren Westwood started in goal, whilst the back four of Phil Bardsley, Kieran Richardson, Titus Bramble and Wes Brown could easily start against Liverpool. The midfield comprised of Ahmed Elmohamady, Lee Cattermole, Craig Gardner and Jack Colback was in a word 'industrious' and little else. Asamoah Gyan & Connor Wickham started in attack.

The opening 15 minutes or so were drab. The only thing worth commenting on was Burnely's clear targetting of Kieran Richardson at left back as many cross field balls were hit towards him, intended for recent Burnley signing Kieren Trippier. Rico dealt with it very well, no problems at all.

Shortly after that we had some excitement. Jay Rodriguez for Burnley flicked his way into the box and past Titus Bramble, but Big Bad Bramble managed to get back and block as Rodriguez was about to pull the trigger.

The only other threat was from ex-SAFC man Ross Wallace, who fired from all of 25 yards straight into the hands of Keiren Westwood. Well held from the new guy. Speaking of Westwood. I'm not sure if he's done what he did before the start of the game, in every game, but I did enjoy his little kneel down (which I'll assume was praying) before high-fiving all the back four. Keep that up lad.

After 25 minutes Asamoah Gyan decided to turn up, and his jinking run lead o a dangers freekick on the edge of the box - curled straight into the wall by Richardson - before Gyan was first to the rebound to fire in an overhit cross. Overhit crossing was the stand out feature of the game, with approximately 97% of SAFC's crosses doing just that. Still, at least they're beating the first man.

Minutes later Jack Colback, who'd been playing very well on the left hand side slipped in a dangerous cross across the six yard box, but I guess Asamoah must have been knackered from all that running around minutes earlier and didn't bother gambling on it.

Then came the goal, a goal which was quite clearly a penalty, but also not a penalty at all, let me explain. Wes Brown rushing out of position to clear the ball was quite clearly pushed to the ground. I've no idea who the ref was, but he was giving out freekicks like beads at Mardi Gras earlier in the game, and this should have been one. Anyway, play continued, and to use yet another odd analogy, the collective sound of the Sunderland fans going "No, No, No!" akin to Cleveland falling out the bath in Family Guy as Titus Bramble's late tackle on someone for Burnley drew a clear penalty. the penalty rifled in by Rodriguez over the top of the diving Westwood.

Only a couple more things worth commenting on in the first half really were Wes Brown's doubel drag back and dummy whilst under presusre from the Burnley forwards, which didn't feel anywhere near as uncomfortable as when Nyron did them.

Also from a corner Titus nearly redeemed himself with a knock down for Connor Wickham, but the effort was tame.

Tame summed up our first half, and we headed into the break 1-0 down.

A triple substitution to start the second half with Ji Dong-Won, Stephane Sessegnon & Steed Malbranque on for Lee Cattermole (who had his ususal game), Asamoah Gyan & Connor Wickham (both of whom did very little).

It was Ji Dong-Won who kind of stole the show as far as our lot went. He showed some good quick feet which eventually lead to a rubbish corner, then moments later beat the offside trap to fire in a dangerous cross which Sess couldn't meet. Very encouraging though.

The three subs were also involved in our best move of the game along with Ahmed Elmohamady. Dong-Won playing in Elmo, who in turn gave it back to the Korean who teed up Steed Malbranque to shoot from 18 yards, and, well, you know how a Malbranque shot ends.

Wes Brown found himself caught in posession at the back however Westwood was equal to the cute chip by Rodriguez again. If he'd just tried to bury it it would have been 2-0.

And that was was Brown's last contribution. That moment aside an assured performance, tough int he tackle, fairly unspectacular, but did what he needed to do well. Sebastian Larsson his replacement, whcih saw Elmo to right back and Bardsley to centre-back. David Vaughan also came on Craig Gardner in a straigh swap in midfield. Wasn't overly impressed with Gardner. Certainly didn't show the attacking verve we're expecting and actually did better in the Cattermole role of tidying up. in midfield. His freekicks and corners however were atrocious. David Vaughan kept things tidy too but offered little that Colback doesn't already.

The rest of the game just played itself out with little to no fanfare. Another over hit freekick lead to an over hit corner, whilst Ji Dong-Won continued to impress with his touch and ability to bring other's into play, he also managed ot turn well on the edge of the box before firing into row Z.

It was at around the 80 minute mark that the old-ish fella in front of me decided to yell "When does the match start!?" and promptly trundled off home. Some would see it as harsh, but very true. Although I've described bits and bobs here in this report, the game itself was just dullsville.

There was just enough time left for Ji Dong-Won to fire in our only (if I recall correctly) shot on target, straight down the throat of Lee Camp.

As the final whistle approached, the thoroughly bored Mrs Roker Report noted that "They've left their skills at home, and their balls in the bin" - an odd sentiment, but certainly true. Nobody really did anything, and nobody showed any balls.

And so another friendly is in the books.

The positives - Nobody got injured I suppose, and Ji Dong-Won looks a cracking signing. Dong-Won easily the pick of the SAFC players with a good first touch, good ability to bring others into play and looks dangerous with the ball at feet. Jack Colback did pretty well too I suppose, and the back four were rarely uncomfortable.

The negatives - There can't have been much fitness or sharpness gained from the game such was the half-arsed nature of the 22 involved. I know these games don't mean a whole lot, but with a fairly strong squad being assembled for the season ahead nobody really put a claim to say why they should be starting over someone else.