We’ve all got cup fever!
When Lewis Morgan prodded home Sunderland’s second goal last night, just after half time, you’d have struggled to find a Lads fan who wasn’t completely distracted for the remainder of the second period by mapping their route down to Wembley out in their heads.
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that this was a cup semi final - we just had so much more in terms of quality, calmness and effort than Bristol Rovers did, and the performance was in keeping with the majority of our recent displays.
We breezed through the game and never really looked under pressure - it was an absolutely quality performance, and exactly the type of showing you want to see from your team when you’re involved in a high pressure game of football. Jack Ross must have been delighted.
Whilst the priority is most certainly our next league game, this feels like a landmark moment in our season. The emotions that we all woke up feeling this morning were the sort you get when you realise you’re on the cusp of something brilliant - roll on March 31st!
Grant Leadbitter = Rolls Royce
What an absolute masterstroke of a signing Grant Leadbitter was.
You can tell that with each passing game he’s getting sharper and sharper, to the point now where he’s actually breezing through each of them and running the show right from the centre of the park. He’s head and shoulders above any midfielder we’ve faced recently.
His calmness on the ball is unrivaled in this squad and has been a huge reason behind why we’ve seen a sharp upturn in form since his arrival. Grant’s presence on the pitch each week further underlines the point that the best teams at any level need a deep-lying midfielder that doesn’t go hiding from the ball, always looks to control the game and understands in intense detail what his role in the side actually is.
If he wasn’t a Sunderland fan he’d be nowhere near this level of football - he’s far too good for the third tier... but who cares? He’s ours, he loves the club and he’s here to stay.
Grigg offers timely reminder of his quality
I said after Saturday that there were plenty of reasons to be happy with Will Grigg, and that his performances were good despite his failure to hit the back of the net on a basis that most fans expected he immediately would when arriving from Wigan.
Last night he scored a great goal, reminding all of us that he’s a quality finisher who with good service can score goals from anywhere around the box.
The pass from his former Wigan teammate Max Power was perfect. It’s easier said than done, but perhaps we should be looking to get the ball into Grigg’s feet like that more often - in recent weeks he’s had to do a lot of the ‘dirty work’ in order to forge chances, but his finish last night and the pass which fed him for the opportunity perhaps showed that we’re not always getting it in to him in the places where he can be best utilised.
Regardless, we have to be over the moon that our star centre forward has bagged himself a great goal from open play - his contributions (as our first choice striker) not only in the cup final but for the run towards the end of the season will be invaluable.