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Reading v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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No strikers? No problem for Sunderland

Sunderland’s luck with injuries has been crap recently, but the Lads didn’t mope around and instead, they took on the challenge of coping without strikers full-on - no problem!

Photo by David Horton - CameraSport via Getty Images

Every now and again, your team puts in a performance that couldn’t be much closer to perfection if it tried.

The concern pre-match was to see just how a reshuffled front line would do against a side that, before Wednesday night, had a perfect home record.

We started well, passing the ball around through the middle and looking solid at the back. It felt as though the chances would come.

Then Ellis Simms pulled up injured with what looked like a knock to his foot. Bugger. We had about seven midfielders on the pitch and we could easily have moved to shut up shop.

However, that wasn’t the case and what we saw was a period of play that was just so exciting to watch.

Reading v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

The quick-fire goals from Paddy Roberts, coupled with Reading appearing to look completely un-arsed about responding, had us absolutely flying.

I was expecting at least some form of rebuff from the hosts, but it never came. We looked in total control and the confidence was flowing through every player in red and white.

The first two goals were well taken, but the third was one that is going to be replayed millions of times in the coming days and weeks.

The slick movement and one-touch football was a far cry from how you would expect a newly promoted side. You could single out any aspect of the attack as being easy on the eye, but for me, the first-time cross from Dan Neil couldn’t have landed better to Clarke who of course kept his cool to finish the job.

The attackers will lap up the plaudits, and rightly so, but the defenders did their jobs very well on Wednesday.

O’Nien and Batth were their usual solid selves, the latter in particular has become a strong and consistently good presence in our backline.

Reading v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

But a special mention must go to Aje Alese. The former West Ham man made his first league start and was faultless all night, both at the back and pushing forward.

Off the pitch, the immediate concern will be that, for the second time in three weeks, we’re going to be anxiously waiting for the outcome of an X-ray on a striker.

Losing our only two out-and-out centre forwards to injury in the space of two weeks is a kick in the teeth at any time in the season, but for it to happen so soon after the close of the transfer window seems like a real dose of ‘Sunderland luck’.

Reading v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

We should have of course been more prepared with depth, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing we can do now - and how many teams in recent history have been hit with luck like that? It’s the rough part of football.

We’ll get on with it and, under Tony Mowbray, we’ll keep on plugging away in the Championship - with plenty of success so far.

Injuries aside, the night at Reading was perfect and shows how once again, we are here to show the Championship exactly what we’re capable of.


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