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Finlay’s Report: “Sunderland can ill-afford ANOTHER game added to their fixture list right now!”

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Saturday’s scrappy, tense clash between Accrington and Sunderland failed to come to a natural end - can Jack Ross afford to have yet ANOTHER game added to an already congested fixture list?

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

One thing that Sunderland can ill-afford right now is another game added into their already tight schedule - but an act of god and a terrible pitch put paid to any chance of us lessening our workload as Saturday’s game was called off with jut 17 minutes left on the clock.

The match between Accrington and Sunderland was 1-1 when it ended, with Chris Maguire and Connor Hall trading second half strikes before the game was stopped by referee Oliver Langford because of torrential rain and it’s effect on the playing surface, which was deemed a threat to the safety of the players.

Jack Ross stuck with the same side that won 4-2 against Barnsley in our last League One match, with goalscorer Maguire and George Honeyman returning to the fold after they both sat out of our two recent cup games as they nursed minor injury problems.

There were doubts before kick-off whether the game would go ahead but after numerous pitch inspections and some good work by the groundsmen, the match was allowed to go ahead despite the poor conditions. Some of the travelling Sunderland fans, myself included, were left standing in the rain in the Coppice Terrace, a stand with no roof.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland had the best chances of the first half, with Aiden McGeady hammering the ball over the bar from a scoreable position in the penalty area. Although Sunderland were the favourites in this one, Accrington Stanley always posed a threat on the counter attack, launching balls up to their main men up top with the state of the pitch effectively acting as a leveller.

In the second half, the rain came down heavier than before kick-off but the referee carried on with play. With 62 minutes gone, Chris Maguire luckily gave Sunderland the lead, but it was a reward for his endurance.

Connor Ripley’s clearance deflected off the leg of the King and it rolled slowly into the back of the Accrington Stanley net - the wet Sunderland fans erupted in the Wham Stadium, as did the supporters watching the match back at the Stadium of Light.

Only six minutes later it was the locals who were cheering - this time, Connor Hall struck after a slip-up by Jon McLaughlin in the Sunderland goal afforded him the opportunity to bring the scores level.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

McLaughlin had caught the original strike but let the ball slip out of his gloves - and a frantic goalmouth scramble ended up with the home side somehow punting the ball beyond the Sunderland defence to get Accrington back in the game.

The joy didn’t last long, though, and with around 75 minutes gone enough was enough for the referee. The waterlogged, heavy pitch became too much of a problem and he brought proceedings to an end, meaning a decision would have to be made by both clubs and the EFL on what is going to happen next.

Though a replay of the game at some point in the new year seems most likely and, unfortunately for Sunderland, it’s likely to come during a period of significant congestion, most likely during the week.

Next up for Sunderland we face an FA Cup second round replay against Walsall at the Stadium of Light, where hopefully Jack Ross will be able to field a strong enough side that will be able to progress to the third round at the second attempt, where a tie against Bolton Wanderers will await for the victors.