After much of the early discussions and debate surrounding Gus Poyet’s new-look Sunderland team, there was a little pressure for the team to try and come up with their first victory of the season.
After another flirtation with relegation, Gus Poyet had seen fit to try and recruit some Premier League experience into the Sunderland side. Jack Rodwell, Jordi Gomez, Costel Pantimilon, Patrick Van Aanholt and Billy Jones all joined the club alongside winger Will Buckley, who joined from Championship Brighton and Hove Albion.
After drawing the first two games against West Bromwich Albion and Manchester United, Sunderland’s season was solid if not spectacular. Their defence certainly looked more coherent and resolute but their creativity was lacking. They were a little toothless and there was much debate with fans over their continued chase of Liverpool’s Fabio Borini after his successful loan spell the previous season.
On this day, Sunderland went to Loftus Road to face Harry Redknapp’s QPR.
After two poor defeats with no goals scored and five conceded, they were desperate for victory. If history has ever taught us fans something, if a player or a team need a positive result, you can trust Sunderland to roll over and give them that desired result.
Nothing changed here.
It was a game where Sunderland deserved more than what they got. They continued to have difficulties up front where their lack of cutting edge or any sort of coherent attacking play was becoming a major issue.
It certainly felt like a game where chances were going to be at a premium, and whoever were fortunate to take the lead could play the game on their terms knowing the opposition would struggle to break them down.
In the first half, it was Poyet’s men who created significant opportunities. Positive build-up play led to perfect through-balls for Steven Fletcher and Patrick van Aanholt, but neither man could convert - and that after left-back Van Aanholt had prodded wide to boot.
They were made to pay.
In first-half added time, Joey Barton’s corner was met at the far post by Leroy Fer, who had earlier hit the crossbar with a powerful 30-yard drive, and his cushioned header was the perfect set-up for Austin to smash the ball into the roof of the net from 10 yards.
The goal, and its timing, was a huge blow to the visitors, who had looked the more composed side for much of the first half.
In the second half, Sunderland could smell and sense the anxiety that surrounded Loftus Road. Poyet’s actions displayed he could sense it too. With Steven Fletcher, Adam Johnson and Connor Wickham on the pitch from the start, he brought further creative reinforcements on.
They were not creating many chances of note but the inclusion of some substitutes almost did pay off.
These included including Jozy Altidore and Emanuele Giaccherini. The Italian came the closest to earning his side a point but his powerful 25-yard shot was palmed away superbly by the diving Green to ensure that QPR sealed just a fifth win in 43 Premier League games.
Alas, it wasn’t to be and Sunderland were looking like a team who would struggle to win many games. They were becoming the draw specialists. In fact it would take them seven games to win their first one even though they only lost one.
After this game, Poyet rued the mistakes made and stressed he needed to bolster the squad.
It’s not my squad.
We are not enough. I am going to be on the phone all the time.
QPR (4-5-1): Green, Isla, Hill (c), Ferdinand, Caulker, Fer (Taarabt 90’), Mutch, Barton, Phillips, Austin (Zamora 67’), Hoilett (Traore 82’).
Subs: Murphy, Traore, Onuoha, Henry, Dunne, Zamora, Taarabt
Goals: Austin (45+2’)
Sunderland (4-3-3): Mannone, Vergini (Altidore 81’), van Aanholt, Brown, O’Shea (c), Cattermole, Larsson, Rodwell (Giaccherini 68’), Johnson, Wickham, Fletcher (Buckley 68’).
Subs: Pantilimon, Jones, Bridcutt, Gomez, Buckley, Giaccherini, Altidore.