When Benji Kimpioka tucked in the fifth goal against Sheffield Wednesday, it sealed a romping victory for Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
The win was our third by a five goal margin so far this season, and the second in December. But this one was different, and it has sent out a warning to the rest of the league.
Our 5-0 victories over Cheltenham and Morecambe came against sides that, with the greatest respect, we should be beating comfortably.
Both these sides came to the SoL after a patchy start to their seasons and were sent packing by a side brimming with confidence.
In Sheffield Wednesday, we faced up to a team on a fantastic unbeaten run - and who had earlier this season taken us apart at Hillsborough.
I was looking forward to getting along to the Stadium of Light for this one, but unfortunately, the day before the game I tested positive for coronavirus. Bugger.
Still, beforehand I felt like it might be a tough game, and that I wouldn’t be missing anything special - how wrong I was; we were absolutely sensational!
To say we dismantled the Owls would be an understatement. On another day, we could have had seven or eight and no one could have had any complaints.
There were a boatload of positives to take from the match - mainly, our leading man Ross Stewart bagged a perfect hattrick to become the league’s top scorer, putting any doubts around his scoring credentials to bed.
However, the positives throughout the match went far deeper than the names on the score sheet. Alex Pritchard shone once again and is making a solid mid-season attempt to show he’s one of the best players in this division. Leon Dajaku is continuing to show his ability, silencing the strangely large number of fans who didn’t think he was very good not that long ago - a month is a long time in football, isn’t it?
Lee Johnson’s Sunderland are a fearless and gutsy outfit. From Thorben Hoffmann in goal to Stewart up top, we are brimming with confidence, desire and ability.
Perhaps most importantly, this squad has a level of team spirit we’ve not seen in a long time.
2021 has, overall, been relatively bright in comparison to recent years. We won plenty of matches, scored lots of goals and have ultimately made huge improvements in the second half of the year, fixing the problems we developed in the first.
We are never sure what the future brings, whether this be on the football pitch or off it, but one thing is certain with Sunderland - if we can repeat the performance against Sheffield Wednesday on enough occasions, then we should be confident about finishing 2022 as a Championship club.
Here’s to the new year, here’s to less COVID-19, and here’s to more good times on Wearside.