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Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship

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Reaction: What was all the fuss about? Sunderland’s persistence paid off - we deserved it!

Bemused by the smattering of boos around me at half time, I was glad to see the Lads come out in the second half doing their thing against a Wigan side who were poor - we deserved the three points!

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Persistence paid off

I don’t really want to start off by focusing on a negative, but the fact that more than a few people around me in the South West Corner thought that the team deserved to be booed off at half time is doing my head in.

Why do it? What does it achieve? Were we really that bad? Do you think these players are letting the club down with their performances?

Of course not. Every club has their fair share of idiots and ours were on full show for some reason on Saturday - for more than one reason... but I’ll leave that topic to someone else.

Thankfully, it wasn’t defining - and I’m glad both the Head Coach and Dennis Cirkin reserved praise for the fans after the game during their interviews with the club website.

I actually thought we played pretty well in the opening 45 minutes and that we were very unlucky to be behind. As Tony Mowbray said himself after the game, Wigan did everything they could to slow things down in that first half - drying the ball with a towel on every throw in, feigning injury and then staying down for ages, taking their time when the ball went out of play... the usual stuff we’ve come to expect over the last three or four years at the SOL.

Still, we did what we do best - we passed the ball quickly, kept the tempo high, tried to work the ball down the sides, bossed possession in the middle, and played some very good stuff. The only thing that was missing was a killer touch in the Wigan box.

Lynden Gooch - who, being honest, was probably our poorest player in that first 45 - came off injured at the break and it prompted Tony Mowbray into changing formation and making a positive change. You’ll note he had Bailey Wright ready to come on for Goochy at 0-0, but being behind meant he brought on Diallo at the break instead, who I thought was very good and changed the game for us, for the better.

We kept doing the good things that we did in the first half, and worked on some of the stuff that didn’t go so well - we didn’t fanny on with it as much around the box, and the end result was two goals.

The majority of the fans in the ground were excellent, got behind the team and drowned out the boo boys. In the end, our persistence paid off and the better team won.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Cirkin adds something extra to our game

Tony Mowbray said after the game that Cirkin had expressed concern about where he fits in with Alese nailing down his place in the side, and the performance from the ex-Spurs man certainly indicated that he doesn’t plan on giving up his shirt lightly.

The most common - and fair - criticism of Cirkin’s game has been his weakness in contributing in forward areas, but on his return he nabbed an assist and a goal.

Can’t ask for much more than that!

Defensively he was excellent too - he got stuck in, aided us aerially, and kept Darikwa and Broadhead fairly quiet down the left hand side.

I’m so glad that he’s back, and what better way to announce your return than with a match-winning goal, top all-round performance and some big, hard tackles.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Refs = woeful!

Every week. Everrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry week. Every frigging week.

The refs at this level are shocking and have been all season - but Keith Stroud was especially minging yesterday. Where do you even start?

  • He did absolutely nothing to deter Wigan from timewasting for the first 50-odd minutes of the game - only to book Anthony Patterson for time wasting when he wasn’t even wasting time.
  • He gave an offside against Patrick Roberts for a perfectly fine goal.
  • Whenever we could and should have had advantage, he blew his whistle and brought play back.
  • He let Wigan dry the ball with a towel every time they had a throw in.
  • He booked Alex Pritchard for nowt, and now he’s banned on Tuesday.

There was probably more but aye... he had a disaster.

I’m just glad he didn’t cost us the game.

Burnley v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Rich Linley - CameraSport via Getty Images

And... breathe

It can’t be understated just how huge a win that was for us.

You can only imagine the reaction if we hadn’t won, with Wyke scoring their goal.

Thankfully, we got the job done. It gives us a bit of breathing space, puts an end to a naff run of results, and gives us the chance to look forward again - with some tough games on the horizon.

Tony Mowbray and the players have worked hard in the last month or so, and they deserved that. It was a great performance, they grafted their arses off, and they can sit at home tonight comfortably knowing they did their jobs well and never let themselves down.

Phew.

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