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FINLAY’S REPORT: Bradford win a huge confidence boost for Sunderland after a tough few weeks!

What a roller-coaster game this weekend’s victory against Bradford was, and what a great match to choose as my first away game of the season! Hopefully Sunderland can build on this win as we return to league action in two week’s time.

Sunderland AFC via Getty images

What a day! A morning journey to Bradford was well worth the trip for my first away game of the season.

A 2-1 victory against the Bantams was a big confidence boost after a tough last two weeks with the matches against Coventry City and Peterborough United ending in draws. You could tell how much the win meant to the fans by the noise from the away supporters at the end of the match at the Northern Commercials Stadium.

There was obviously going to be a change after Tuesday night’s match with Reece James coming into the side for the suspended Bryan Oviedo. Also, there was a bit of a debate whether Lee Cattermole would come back into the side and I wanted him in the starting eleven as we play much better with him in the team. The Sunderland midfielder was handed a place in the team for Dylan McGeouch, who I expect to start on Tuesday night against Carlisle in the Checkatrade Trophy as he needs more game time to get into his full capabilities.

Reece James came into the side and did well.
Sunderland AFC via Getty images.

We started the game on the back front with Bradford having the better spells of play. The team gradually got a foothold in the game and eventually took the lead when Cattermole’s shot was diverted home by Josh Maja to score his ninth goal of the season in the league.

There is an argument that we should have put the game out of the reach of the hosts, but we were pegged back when yet again when we couldn’t clear a set piece and they levelled through their captain, Anthony O’Connor.

Only two minutes later, we scored a second goal to put ourselves in front again when Jack Baldwin bundled the ball into the back of the net to score his first goal in a Sunderland shirt up from the back.

What a player Jackenbauer has been this season!
Image: Sunderland Echo

For the second time in the space of a week, one of our players was sent off for the same reason as Max Power was shown a red card when he lashed out in the penalty area. Furthermore, the referee also pointed to the spot to give a penalty to Bradford and give them a chance to get back into the match.

Luckily for us, Jon McLaughlin managed to pull out a spectacular save to deny the penalty taker, which was celebrated like a goal in amongst the away fans. It was another reason why he was called up to the Scotland side as the former Hearts player continues to impress.

Then, in the dying moments of the match, Bradford were brought down to ten men when Sean Scannell used violent conduct against George Honeyman, who only came on as a substitute after his concussion that left him out on Tuesday.

We have a two week break now until our next league game as the Blackpool game was postponed due to international call-ups, but we do play in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night against Carlisle United where I expect many changes to the side to give fringe players game time and a chance to prove to Jack Ross that they deserve a place in the starting XI against Shrewsbury Town in two weeks time.