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Top Ten: Moments Of Sunderland's 2011/12 Season

We recount the Top Ten moments from last season...
We recount the Top Ten moments from last season...

With Euro 2012 now over, the season finally feels at an end - and we think that's completely rubbish. Seriously, what on earth are we going to do for the next month? Well, get drunk and reminisce is what, and we've made a start already.

Join us as we run down our top ten moments from what was an eventful 2011/12 season for the lads, and feel free to add your own and join the discussion in the comments box.

10. Connor Wickham's Goal Against Villa

The former Ipswich man had a largely anti-climactic and injury-ravaged first season at Sunderland. He didn't show many signs of the ability that has made him one of the most talked-about young players in the country over the last couple of years.

That said, he did produce one tantalizing glimpse. Having been played in by Stephane Sessegnon, Wickham produce a two touch predatory piece of penalty box play that was just dripping with quality by first gathering the ball with his right foot then powering a crisp left foot strike across the goalkeeper into the bottom corner.

Much more of that please, Connor.

9. Gardner Denies Bale

The goalless draw with Spurs at the Stadium of Light was a turgid and dour affair which definitely saw defences on top. There is no doubt that Sunderland owe their point in it to Craig Gardner, however.

In the final minute and with players committed up field, Gareth Bale found himself rampaging forward with nothing but Gardner between himself and an open invitation to help himself to three valuable points for the North Londoners.

There was barely a soul in the whole Stadium or watching around the world who didn't expect Bale to breeze past Gardner with ease, but Gardner stood tall, stood his ground, and timed a sliding tackle to absolute perfection to a roar of relieved approval from the home fans.

8. Westwood Denies Bent

If Gareth Bale bearing down on goal in the last minute was a heart-in-mouth moment, then this one was pure torture. Back in October at the Stadium of Light, we all knew that Darren Bent would have an opportunity to shove our vitriol right down our throats, and he so nearly achieved it.

With a clear sight of goal 10 yards out and only the keeper to beat, Westwood spared our blushes with a sprawling save that left Bent with the hugely satisfying demeanour of a momentarily broken man.


7. Sessegnon Stuns The Swans

Everyone loves Sess, but you know those numerous times over a season when he does something brilliant only to follow it up with something ludicrously extravagant and ambitious that completely negates his previous good play and leaves you pulling your hair out in frantic despair? Well, this wasn't one of those times!

This time, he actually pulled an outrageous finish out of the bag from a seemingly impossible angle. Our resident match-reporter Simon Walsh described the destination of the ball as "inch perfect in the top corner of net, right where the spiders live" and never has a more apt description of a goal been penned.

Special goal from a special player.

6. Colback Rips Open Bolton

The short description of this is that is was a pass. Simple as that, really. But it was a quite exquisite pass that any player in the world would have been proud of.

We still rather like the fact that Jack Colback has somehow managed to slip beneath the radar and remains a bit of an unknown to the rest of the footballing world. In fact, such is the extent of everyone else's apparent oblivion to him it sometimes leaves us wondering whether he actually exists at all and isn't just a figment of our collective imaginations. But just in case he does exist, we will try not to be too profuse with our praise.

In fact, stuff it. It was a quite sublime piece of midfield play.

5. The Perfect Counter-Attack

Slick and exciting counter-attacking football was something of a regular treat following O'Neill's arrival, but this was a picture book goal that could not have been any more perfect if it was glazed in honey.

It stared and finished with who else but Stephane Sessegnon. First of all he made a mug of a Norwich defender in the centre circle with a nutmeg so sweet Steed Malbranque has a framed picture of it beside his bed, before laying out a measured pass to Fraizer Campbell down the right wing. Campbell played his part with a sumptuous cross to the back post for Sessegnon to head home in textbook fashion.

Sunderland scored so many spectacular goals last season - not least Campbell's effort in the very same game - that this one got a little lost in the shuffle, but you could travel far and wide and never see a team goal of that quality again.

4. Mignolet's Best Tommy Impression

It ended in the crushing inevitability of a Shola Ameobi rescue act, but that shouldn't detract from the importance of Mignolet's Sports Direct Arena heroics.

The way the game was going, had Demba Ba converted his penalty with 8 minutes to go you would have struggled to see Sunderland getting anything from the game at all.

Sadly, three points wasn't to be, and Mignolet missed out on mackem immortality by a whisker. Still a great moment, though, if all too fleeting.

3. McClean's Instant Impact

I have just about reached that age where I am uncomfortable with the lofty number of games, eras, goals, and dramas I have seen since I first caught the football bug in my youth. Never before, though, have I seen an impact such as the one James McClean had on a game of football and possibly even a season.

It was looking bleak as Blackburn sought to protect their lead in a 10-0-0 system. The whole ground knew where it was going. We'd seen it too many times before. What was so unique about McClean's introduction from the bench was what it did to the mood in the stadium. Somehow, this raw and largely unknown wild card player just tapped into something no one else knew was there and managed to lift the spirits and belief of everyone - and all he needed to do it was a football at his feet.

You know what, lets just include the entire last 15 minutes of Blackburn in this one. McClean, Vaughan's rocket, Seb's beauty, the White Strips O'Neill chant - it was all just pure magic.

2. Campbell's Cup Comeback

It is difficult to fans to really relate to players these days. That isn't necessarily their fault. It is just what happens when vast amounts of money get introduced into anything. But when Fraizer Campbell slotted home the FA Cup fourth round equalizer against Middlesbrough I'd be amazed if there was a single Sunderland fan out there who didn't feel some affinity with the emotion of the occasion.

After two years of battling cruel injury, it was a moment that no one deserved more.

1. JiiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!

No surprises with our number one pick here! It needs no introductions either. It was a moment that resonated around the world, which is certainly something of a rarity for us.

The previously imperious and seemingly unbeatable Manchester City had arrived on Wearside fully expecting another routine win, probably wondering more about how many goals they'd score than whether they'd win it or not.

They were met with a resolute red and white wall that simply refused to buckle under pressure or yield to conformity. A point would have been brilliant. A win with the last kick of the game from the unlikeliest source was just incredible and stunned not only City but the whole of the footballing world.

It has been claimed that last season was the greatest in Premier League history, and this was a central moment in that. A moment when Manchester City suddenly become beatable and briefly vulnerable enough for Manchester United to get a whiff of a title race.

I am not sure there is a single person out there who doesn't STILL expect Ji to fall over before putting the ball in the net whenever they watch it back on video. If that doesn't sum up the magic of the moment, I don't know what possibly can.


Do you agree with our Top Ten? Tell us what you'd have chosen in the comments box below, or hit us up on Twitter @RokerReport with your suggestions.

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