Sunderland take on eight-placed Fleetwood town today as they look to pick up another important win following a much-improved performance against Doncaster Rovers last time out.
Joey Barton will watch the game from the stands after he was sent off for protesting Ched Evans’ disallowed goal in Fleetwood’s 0-0 draw with Bristol Rovers last weekend.
Fleetwood have been indifferent in their recent performances, with three draws, one win, and one defeat denting their positive early season form.
Here’s all the info available ahead of today’s game.
Reflecting on a positive win away to Doncaster:
Everyone has got a spring in their step. The intention has got to be to go to Fleetwood and at least match the performance at Doncaster.
I feel we have to keep playing in the manner we did the other day ... the supporters will respond to what they see on the pitch.
Speaking about the pressure he’s faced recently, Parkinson admitted that his side have needed to improve, but praised the influence from the fans:
When you don’t win for a while, the pressure builds because football is about winning. We have had to remain focused on the process because you need to tick a number of boxes to enable you to get back on track and get the results.
We have spoken about what we have done well lately and what we need to improve on. We accept the criticism when we don’t win a game. We felt we should’ve won our Boxing Day game, but we didn’t.
We responded in the right manner at Doncaster Rovers in front of a fantastic 4,000 fans. I have got to say it, but they were really like the 12th man and they responded to what they saw on the pitch.
They got right behind the lads from the first minute to the last and now it’s about continuing that good work on New Year’s Day at Fleetwood Town.
Parkinson also spoke about the news that Stewart Donald is looking to expedite his sale of the club, noting that Donald remains committed to strengthening the squad this January:
The concerning element of that is I’ve been in dialog with the chairman about January and he’s been fully supportive. The good news from my point of view is he remains supportive to put those plans in place to try and improve the squad.
The recruitment team have been working very hard in the background and I really don’t want that to be derailed. It is an awkward time because it is a crucial time in attracting the right players.
The owner, I spoke to him this morning, is fully committed to bringing players in.
Parkinson will likely remain without Elliot Embleton, but other than that he has a fully-fit squad to choose from:
Tom Flanagan is back. He’s had a problem with his hamstring, but we felt it was more coming from his back and he trained today, so that’s good news for us. Everybody is fit and ready, there’s nothing new from the weekend.
View From The Opposition
Barton spoke briefly after his side’s goalless draw - a game in which he was sent off for using abusive language towards the match officials:
We played well against Rotherham and probably should have won. Then we won at Rochdale and should have won today against Bristol Rovers so it’s really good signs, especially being four unbeaten.
We want to win more games obviously, but we are now just starting to show just what a good side we are at this point in the season. The table doesn’t lie anymore and as a team, we are moving in the right direction. The key is that we need to put teams to the sword when we are so much better than them.
He argued after the game that, “I’m just passionate, and care about my team winning games,” however Barton won’t be able to influence the game from the touchline today.
Venue: Highbury Stadium, Fleetwood
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
Current position: 8th
Last season position: 11th (League One)
Last 5 results:
(L1) Doncaster Rovers (A) 2-1
(L1) Bolton Wanderers (H) 0-0
(L1) Blackpool (H) 1-1
(L1) Gillingham (A) 0-1
(L1) Burton Albion (H) 1-2
(L1) Bristol Rovers (H) 0-0
(L1) Rochdale (A) 3-2
(L1) Rotherham United (A) 2-2
(L1) Gillingham (H) 1-1
(L1) Blackpool (A) 1-3
The Lads at Fleetwood
30 Apr 2019 (L1) Fleetwood Town 2-1 Sunderland (Cattermole)
Top goalscorers (in all competitions)
14 - Paddy Madden
7 - Ched Evans
7 - Josh Morris
2 - Danny Andrew
2 - Kyle Dempsey
Last Time We Met
International call ups prevented September’s game from being played, so today’s game will be the first time we face Fleetwood this season.
Last season the Lads drew 1-1 with Fleetwood at the SoL during the beginning of the season before falling to a 2-1 defeat on the penultimate weekend of the season.
The Lads, however, will be desperate to record a win today so that they start 2020 in the right manner, and to continue their improved form that saw them win against Doncaster last weekend.