Sunderland’s strong start to the season continued at the weekend with a grinding victory over early ‘team to watch’ contenders Bolton Wanderers.
We were forced to dig in for most of the remaining minutes, but a stubborn display made sure of a fifth straight home win this season.
Personally, I feel that our 100% home record so far has gone under the radar, and it wasn’t too long ago that we couldn’t buy a home win.
Having that winning feeling is never a bad thing. When games come thick and fast, as they usually do in the football league, a bad result can be a distant memory in a matter of days.
Take the Fleetwood trip last Saturday, for instance.
The sucker punch manner in which we dropped the two points right at the death was frustrating, but fast forward a week, and we’ve picked up two wins in four days - keeping a pair of clean sheets in the process. We’ve bounced back well, and we’re putting together a run on Wearside that most fans have never likely seen, given that good starts to the season aren’t always synonymous with Sunderland AFC.
The importance of winning your home games goes without saying, but for Sunderland fans having the SoL becoming a fortress has been long overdue.
Let us not forget that less than five years ago, we went almost 12 months without a win on home soil. The back end of a Premier League relegation season and the first half of a Championship relegation campaign made for some brutal viewing for Sunderland fans.
A regular winning feeling isn’t something we have experienced too much in recent years, but getting the job done week in, week out as we are at the moment is something we will hopefully get used to.
We have made hard work of some of the five home victories so far this season, not just against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.
With four of the wins being by a one-goal margin, the mettle of this squad has been well and truly tested. In past years, taking the lead in five home games would not have ended in five wins. It hasn’t always been pretty, but the ability of this group of players has got us over the finish line on each Wearside match day.
An issue when first dropping into this division was being unable to break down teams who came to the Stadium of Light. In the first season, we lost just one home game.
However, on ten occasions, we drew. It was these dropped points that ultimately meant our season would end in play-off heartache at Wembley.
We aren’t going to win every match on home soil, and there will be points dropped along the way, but what’s important to focus on is making sure that when we do falter, we continue to bounce back in the manner we have in the last week.
An average crowd of over 30,000 so far this season deserves the best, and so far our team is giving fans plenty to get excited about.