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Match Report: Sunderland 0-1 Manchester United - None Of It Really Mattered In The End

Fraizer Campbell could have leveled things up in the first half but it wasn't to be after a gutsy performance.
Fraizer Campbell could have leveled things up in the first half but it wasn't to be after a gutsy performance.

On what was a monumental day for the Premier League, with extra emphasis on the 'mental' part, we managed to claw back a little bit of credit, and despite not being the party-poopers we might have hoped to be pre-match, and it all proved to mean absolutely nothing for either side the game was a decent enough spectacle.

Anyway, it's about time we got on with our match report, so just continue reading for more thoughts on the game, some player ratings and of course, all the action relived...

Martin O'Neill made a few changes for the game, including a returns to the starting lineup for Titus Bramble and David Vaughan as Lee Cattermole and Matt Kilgallon sat out entirely. Another sitting out completely was Nicklas Bendtner, replaced in attack by Fraizer Campbell. There was also room on the bench for Connor Wickham as the gaffer looked to see what some more fringe players could do for him next season.

The visitors dominated for large spells of the game, but it was David Vaughan who had the best opportunity of the opening 15 minutes when he sent a fizzing drive high towards the roof of the net, which was well saved by David De Gea.

That was about as good as it got though, and after Phil Jones headed just over the bar following a corner, it was he who sent in a great cross for Wayne Rooney to tap home. That's what the neutral reports will read anyway, from our perspective, Jones had far, far too much time to get the cross in, and somehow the most dangerous player on the pitch managed to ghost in behind Michael Turner, and ahead of Titus Bramble and Phil Bardsley to be completely unmarked at the back post. A terrible state of affairs.

Bramble nearly cost us a second goal when he needlessly fouled Rooney on the edge of the penalty area, allowing the England (when he's not suspended) striker to clip the top of the crossbar with Simon Mignolet completely stranded.

Another chance went begging for the visitors when Ashley Young scuffed his effort into the path of Rooney, who himself managed to miss the target when it was easier to score.

These misses nearly proved to be very costly for United as Fraizer Campbell came close to scoring a stunning effort against his former employers on 35 minutes. Craig Gardner laid the ball off to Stephane Sessegnon, who chipped over a disjointed defence to Campbell who's spectacular volley went narrowly wide. If you were to give any sort of criticism, it would be that Campbell perhaps had more time than he realised, but it was a superb effort.

On the stroke of half time John O'Shea left the action with a knock to be replaced by Ahmed Elmohamady, forcing us into a reshuffle, while Antonio Valencia was the next to test Mignolet when he drove straight at the Belgian.

The second half was much better for us, and we picked things up a little, showing we were not just there to make up the numbers, and early on in the second half there was a legitimate shout for a penalty when Patrice Evra grappled with Elmohamady in the penalty area. Some might have considered it a soft appeal, I'd say you've seen them given plenty of times.

Pot shots from ourselves came in from ourselves, and Connor Wickham was introduced as we pushed for a dramatic equaliser, however yet again it was the visitors who had the best chances. Paul Scholes hit the post while Ryan Giggs on the rebound was denied superbly by Simon Mignolet yet again with an incredible save.

From then on eyes were elsewhere in the Premier League, our game proving to be of little consequence, but today's performance was full of effort, just beaten by the better team on the day.

Team (Ratings in brackets)

Starting XI: Mignolet (7), O'Shea (6), Turner (6), Bramble (6), Bardsley (7), Gardner (6), Colback (7), Vaughan (6), McClean (7), Sessegnon (7), Campbell (7)

Subs Used: Elmohamady (7), Bridge (6), Wickham (6)

Man Of The Match: Ahmed Elmohamady - Certainly not who you might have predicted before the game, but when he came on he made a real difference to our play. lots of direct running, a hard working performance with good work at both ends of the pitch. Will it be enough to keep him at the club? Probably not, but he can be pleased with his performance today. Others who had a good shout included McClean and Campbell who worked their backsides off, and Mignolet who made some great saves to stop the scoreline being an embarrassment.

And so we finish 13th in the league. If you're looking at the last six months of the season you'd be slightly disappointed, if you look at the season as a whole then you'll be like us and think it's a decent showing, considering there was a very, very real possibility of relegation in November and December time.

As for today's performance, I felt we did alright given the circumstances. They're a much better team than that, apologies for being Captain Obvious, but despite them winning the possession and territorial battles, we did have some good moments.

There's work to be done over the summer, you can't deny that at all, and I'm confident that it will be done. The tools are there for us to be a very good team.

Until then though, lets all have a good rest over the summer, relax, and then come back at it next month with clearer heads and more of an idea where we need to improve. It's been a long, long year, filled with ups and downs. More consistency next year please!

Until then though, Keep The Faith.

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