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Finlay’s Report: Red card? Penalty? Goals not given? Nah - luck was Sunderland’s side for once!

Luck was on Sunderland’s side for once yesterday as the officials gave us the benefit of the doubt on more than one occasion - but, on such an important day it was a massive win.

Fans celebrate at the end of yesterday’s win
Sunderland AFC

A record League One attendance watched Sunderland defeat Bradford City 1-0 at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day - 46,039 was the attendance in the north east, which beats Leeds United’s 38,256 in 2008 when they were in League One.

On the day, only Manchester United and Liverpool had more people walking through their turnstiles, with Sunderland having a higher attendance than even Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.

In the game itself, Aiden McGeady scored the only goal of the match in the 31st minute but the occasion was rarely far from controversy - Bradford had a fair claim to suggest they should have had a penalty, a goal and a Sunderland red card, which would have undoubtedly changed the game and swung it in their favour.

Jack Ross made a few changes to the side that lost 3-1 against Portsmouth in our heaviest defeat of the season on Saturday.

Bryan Oviedo came in for Reece James, while Josh Maja and Chris Maguire replaced Duncan Watmore and captain, George Honeyman, who didn’t have a place in the squad. Also, Charlie Wyke was back for the first time after his devastating injury that he picked up against Burton Albion, to face his former side.

Bumper crowd at the SoL for Boxing Day
Sunderland AFC

Both teams started the game well, and with the enormous crowd spurring the Lads on Sunderland surely had to impress. Despite being close to the bottom of the table, Bradford City looked promising but left themselves open, particularly down the left hand side, which often meant they were exposed and susceptible to Sunderland attacks.

And the lads took the lead in the 31st minute when Josh Maja’s shot from outside of the penalty area was spilled by the Bradford City keeper.

Aiden McGeady pounced on the opportunity and tucked the ball into the back of the net to score his seventh league goal of the season.

In the second half, the controversial moments came thick and fast - firstly, Bradford had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down by the referee as David Ball was tackled by Max Power inside the area.

An outstretch of Darren England’s arms greeted the City appeals!

The Lads take the lead
Sunderland AFC

Then, only moments later, Bradford thought that Sunderland should have been down to ten men for a second match in a row after a collision between defenders Tom Flanagan and Nathaniel Knight-Percival.

The Bradford defender appeared to have hold of Flanagan’s foot and the Sunderland man used aggression to free himself from the grip.

After speaking to the nearest linesman, the referee gave Tom Flanagan only a yellow card - a rather fortunate let-off, all things considered.

Finally, the most controversial moment in Sunderland’s and Bradford’s season came when Jack Payne’s effort looked to be an easy save for Jon McLaughlin, but nothing is that easy for Sunderland - the Scottish keeper fumbled the shot and the officials thought that he managed to clear the ball off the line, but they were fooled.

Video footage from the game showed the ball clearly crossing the line, but there’s no goal-line technology in League One, so it wasn’t given and the match ended Sunderland 1-0 Bradford City.

The games are coming thick and fast and we now have another on Saturday against Shrewsbury Town at the Stadium of Light, where hopefully we can claim another home victory and three points.