“Home is where the heart is”. That’s how the old saying goes. Yet on our return to the Championship, the Stadium of Light feels as though it has been short of home comforts. In nine matches this season so far, we’ve been on the winning side just twice.
These two victories have come against the sides we came up from League One with - Wigan Athletic and Rotherham. On three occasions, we’ve lost and on only one of these - the 1-0 loss to Norwich City in August - can we count ourselves as being unlucky.
Four matches at the Stadium of Light have ended in draws, two 0-0 against Preston and Blackpool, 1-1 on the opening day against Coventry City, and 2-2 against QPR in our second home game.
On paper, you could argue that this is a mixed bag of results. 10 points from a possible 27 makes for a different story, and back-to-back home defeats to bring in the world cup break has of course done nothing to settle any nerves.
Taking apart some of the displays this season can go a long way to dissecting our fortunes on home soil. On two occasions, QPR and Burnley, we went in at half time with a two goal lead. On both occasions, we failed to win. QPR felt like more of a case of poor game management as we let our visitors come roaring back to steal a point they perhaps didn’t deserve.
Burnley was the first match this season where it felt like we had been completely blown away by a team simply better and more experienced than us. It was a lesson in just how good you need to be to challenge at the very top of the division.
The Cardiff defeat is one that perhaps sounded alarm bells the most out of our home matches this season. Tony Mowbray gambled by leaving Corry Evans on the bench and pairing Abdoullah Ba and Dan Neil in the midfield. It was a gamble which didn’t pay off, but Mowbray waited until it was too late to rig the changes and rectify the issue.
Cardiff are a well-established side at this level and brought a game plan to the SoL. It was a plan that worked to a tee- despite their first-half penalty miss.
It’s been a few years since we made the SoL into anything that resembles a fortress, but we’ve shown glimpses of it this year going back to the second half of last season. Building and making sure we become harder to beat at home once again our home form was anything resembling a ‘fortress’.
Millwall and then West Brom in succession after the World Cup break could shape the next stage of the season for us. Four to six points from these two and we’ll be well on our way once again. Anything less, and the concerns over our poor home form will only grow.