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Sunderland v Plymouth Argyle - Sky Bet League One

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For Sunderland this season, home really is where the heart is

A fine home record so far this season has been a welcome change to campaigns of the past for SAFC fans...

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Winning home games is something that has not always been a given for Sunderland. You only need to look back in the last five years for a time when we very nearly went an entire 365 days without registering a victory at the Stadium of Light.

Yet this season so far, the SoL has been a happy hunting ground for the lads and us fans.

Saturday’s 2-1 win against Plymouth Argyle was our ninth win on home soil in 11 matches. As well as being the best home record in the division, it is a run that has helped to put us firmly in the automatic promotion race following a sticky spell in October.

The victories have come in various forms, from the hard-fought 1-0 defeats of AFC Wimbledon and Bolton Wanderers to the 5-0 thumpings of Cheltenham Town and Morecambe, and have each asked different questions of our side.

And in nine home games this season, these questions have been answered.

In the past ‘pundits’ of the game have criticised our fans, believing that we were to blame for our poor form at home in years gone by.

Sunderland v Plymouth Argyle - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

This season has put the sword into this myth, and on many occasions, there has been a good atmosphere at the SoL.

Having not been able to get to the match on Saturday, I was only able to take the word of people on social media; and there were plenty of positives.

It feels as though, finally, we are being able to use our vast home to our advantage at this level.

For too long, sides have come to Wearside for their big day out and this incentive has been enough to up their game and frustrate us.

An incredible number of home draws in our first campaign back at this level put to bed our automatic promotion hopes that season. One draw from 12 this season is making sure, so far at least, that this isn’t repeated.

Sunderland v Plymouth Argyle - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

A main reason for our strong home form seems to be our ability to strike early in a match. Take Saturday, for example. Two quick fire goals in the opening 15 minutes would have blown any game plan Plymouth had brought out of the water.

Killing teams off early has been a feature in most of our home victories this season, and it is a method that has allowed us to fill our boots and repair the damage a few away games did to our goal difference earlier this campaign.

The pressure was on Lee Johnson just last month after some shambolic performances, but four wins in the last six has put us in great nick heading into the festive period.

Games will come thick and fast, and with two home games in four days either side of New Year, it will be vital our outstanding home form continues.

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