Sunderland’s game this afternoon with Accrington was called off due to horrendous weather and an even worse pitch, with the action called to a close when the game was evenly poised at one-all.
Chris Maguire opened the scoring in the second half after Accrington’s goalkeeper saw his clearance cannon off the Scottish forward, but they soon got back into the game with a scrappy equaliser just minutes later.
It wasn’t long after that the referee decided to abandon the game, and it was the right decision - the ball wasn’t moving at all, the ground was boggy and the rain continued to pour.
The game will now have to be rescheduled in due course - and with the games already coming thick and fast, Jack Ross could probably do without a fixture pile-up.
Accrington Stanley: Connor Ripley, Callum Johnson, Ross Sykes, Mark Hughes, Nick Anderton, Jordan Clark, Sam Finley, Daniel Barlaser, Sean McConville (c), Offrande Zanzala, Billy Kee
Subs: Jonny Maxted, Ben Richards-Everton, Scott Brown, Connor Hall, Piero Mingoia, Luke Charman, Seamus Conneely
Sunderland: Jon McLaughlin, Adam Matthews, Jack Baldwin, Tom Flanagan, Reece James, Max Power, George Honeyman (c), Lynden Gooch, Chris Maguire, Aiden McGeady, Josh Maja
Subs: Robbin Ruiter, Bryan Oviedo, Glenn Loovens, Luke O’Nien, Dylan McGeouch, Alim Ozturk, Jerome Sinclair
The players took to the pitch and, after some uncertainly over whether or not the game would actually go ahead, the referee blew his whistle to commence the first half.
It became blatantly obvious from the get-go that the torrential rain which the town of Accrington had been subject to this afternoon would have a profound impact on this fixture. Players were slipping over left, right and Mensah; runs were being made five minutes before a submerged ball could get there and no one knew whether a dropping ball was even going to bounce or not.
Aiden McGeady seemed to deal with these conditions better than any Sunderland player in the first forty-five and had a great chance when - unmarked in the box - he had time to control a cross from Josh Maja before hitting it on the half-volley. Unfortunately, the effort arched narrowly over the crossbar.
Accrington’s Jordan Clark had a decent look-in when he turned away from Jack Baldwin before taking aim from outside the box, but thankfully the ball lost momentum when Clark kicked up a litre of water along with it and was headed wide anyway.
Stanley came close again when Jon McLaughlin could only punch the ball as far as Sam Finley the edge of the box, who attempted to chip both McLaughlin and George Honeyman on the line but scooped his effort just over.
The last sight on the goal Sunderland had before the closing of the opening interval came when Maja was brought down just outside the box to earn his side a free-kick. Substitute Bryan Oviedo sent the set-piece under the studs of the jumping Stanley wall but ‘keeper Jonny Maxted was able to react in time to smother it.
A frustrating first half for both sides ended goalless, with the home side arguably looking the better overall.
HT: Accrington Stanley 0-0 Sunderland
When play resumed, so did they rain. The downpour became more severe with every minute elapsed but was juxtaposed by the fiery tempers between the two sides.
Chris Maguire and Stanley captain Sean McConville were shown a yellow card each after almost starting a scrap in the middle of the park following a cynical challenge on McGeady - and this aggression did not subside, as both sets of players took turns shoving and mouthing off at each other for the remainder of the afternoon.
Eventually, Sunderland broke the deadlock in this slippy, scrappy encounter with a goal befitting the conditions. Ripley’s goal kick lacked the height needed to evade the charging Maguire, and so the clearance rebounded off the Mackem man and trundled comically into the back of the net.
However, Stanley drew level not too long after with a messy goal of their own. A chaotic penalty box scramble ensued and, despite the Lads’ continued attempts to slip and slide the ball out of the goalmouth corridor, the ball eventually found it’s away over the line.
Both sides continued to play a wholehearted, full-blooded game with the scoreline now evened, but the relentless onslaught of rain ultimately forced the hand of the officials, who deemed the pitch unplayable and called the game off - with only seventeen minutes remaining.
POSTPONED: Accrington Stanley 1-1 Sunderland (Maguire 63’, Hall 69’)
Jon McLaughlin, 6/10 : Probably should have dealt better with their goal but, in fairness, the conditions were terrible.
Adam Matthews, N/A: Hard to say. He wasn’t on that long before going off injured.
Jack Baldwin, 6/10: Like McLaughlin, he struggled for their goal and perhaps should have cleared it. Otherwise, he did okay - it’s a nightmare being a defender when the ball stops dead in puddles all afternoon.
Tom Flanagan, 6/10: As with his defensive partner, it’s a tough ask defending in that weather and he did alright, all things considered.
Reece James, 7/10: Cleared his lines well. Had to scrap for the team.
Max Power, 7/10: Vocal and hugely important considering the organisation required in a game under circumstances like these. He’s been a calming presence in the side recently.
George Honeyman, 6/10: Alongside Power, he grafted hard. Again, the weather killed our chances of playing through Accrington and we just needed him to work hard and win second balls, which he did for the most part.
Lynden Gooch, 5/10: Struggled to get into the game, but understandable on this occasion.
Chris Maguire, 8/10: Fantastic all afternoon - was rewarded for his efforts with a goal. Needed him to win us free kicks high up the pitch to take the pressure off, and he did well at doing just that and attracting fouls.
Aiden McGeady, 7/10: Had his man on toast every time he went into a 1v1 situation. Had nothing to hit in the box, which meant often his efforts were wasted. Again, it’s great to see him closing down and work hard defensively - he’s changed under Ross’ guidance.
Josh Maja, 4/10: Completely forgettable performance - we needed him to charge down defenders like the rest of his teammates and, well, he just didn’t. He can often go missing in the gritty games - needs to work on that side of his game.
(SUB) Bryan Oviedo, 7/10: Thought he dug in when he came on - canny showing.
(SUB) Luke O’Nien, 6/10: His introduction saw Maguire move up top, which got us our goal.
Man of the Match: Chris Maguire.
Attendance: 5,257 (2,604 Sunderland fans)