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Kelvin Beattie says…
One of my favourite games in the Mowbray era was at West Bromwich Albion last season.
Both teams were pushing hard for the playoffs and were coming into the game with a degree of confidence. Our away form was emboldening my expectation, as our fearless young guns were undoing some of the stingiest defences in the Championship.
During a tight first half, I felt we were the better team but just before the break, the referee gave a poor penalty decision in the Baggies’ favour.
Going in one-nil down controversially might’ve been the undoing of some teams, but not this group, as we picked ourselves up, survived a couple of spells of pressure and scored two cracking goals to win the game.
First of all, Dennis Cirkin started and finished a move that saw him get on the end of a great Lynden Gooch cross and bury a header into the West Brom goal. What I loved about this was that we had six players in the box when that cross was delivered!
Heading into the last ten minutes of the game, sixteen passes without a home player getting a touch saw Cirkin finish with some style. What a goal, and another testament to our pass-and-move football that was an absolute pleasure to witness.
There were telling contributions all over the park for us in a real team performance, as well as a joyous celebration from fans and players alike at the final whistle.
You could tell how much this meant to Mowbray and the players at the end of the game, and that’s something Sunderland fans love to see.
Malc Dugdale says…
I also have very fond memories of the Reading game, but I was incredibly happy with some of the performances in the early part of this season, most notably the day we beat Southampton 5-0 at home in early September.
Ahead of the game, I confess that I was pretty concerned about our young team’s ability to take on an opponent who were playing in the top tier the season before.
However, within what felt like seconds, a great cross from the right was headed in by Jack Clarke at the back post in what must’ve been one of the most attack-focused kick off sequences of any game during Mowbray’s tenure.
From that point on, it was both a fantastic display of attacking football and a demonstration of how to kill off a game while on the front foot.
Pierre Ekwah scored a brace to make it 3-0, showing us more of his ability to shoot from range, and in the second half, Bradley Dack demonstrated that he can make the odd gamble of an attacking run work when he turned in our fourth from close range.
In stoppage time, two of our youngest and brightest prospects, Chris Rigg and Jewison Bennette, showed what we hoped may be a great partnership for the years to come.
The way they combined for our fifth goal was a joy to behold, especially given we were 4-0 up and it was so late in the game.
The way the wonderful deep cross from Bennette led to a powerful and accurate header from Rigg was a statement that we take no prisoners in this league when we’re on form. The header was also executed with technique way beyond Rigg’s years, too.
Let’s hope we can get our new gaffer in very soon and get back to such wonderful football as seen in these games. We clearly have the players to do it, and I can’t wait to see that level of performance back out on the grass at the Stadium of Light and during away games too.
It’s who we are now, and I love watching it on days like these.
Mark Wood says…
I’m going for what I suspect is the favourite of many in our fanbase, the 3-0 away win at Reading in September last year.
Going into it, we were still getting over the shock departure of Alex Neil and had yet to see much of what Mowbray could bring. There was also the setback of losing Ross Stewart to a projected lengthy injury layoff and things got worse when his understudy Ellis Simms went down and eventually off with a foot injury that looked like anything but a ‘short-term’ niggle.
At this point, everyone was looking at the months to follow with a certain amount of trepidation about how we were going to cope without any recognised strikers in our lineup.
Instead, Mowbray came up with a level of tactical reorganisation that blew Reading away.
Two great strikes from Patrick Roberts were followed by one of the best team goals seen anywhere last season, that had the national pundits purring that they’d seen the goal of the season already.
This was the game that made the fans believe we had a good team and that we wouldn’t be battling against relegation in our first season back in the Championship.
It was also the first game during which Mowbray stamped his identity on Sunderland, and where we first saw the kind of incisive, flowing and fearless football which became our identity last season.
It was also where our inverted wingers first really worked, and interestingly it was before Amad came into the team, which shows that although we do miss him right now, we don’t have to.
Mowbray rang some brave changes early in the game and he absolutely nailed it.
Martin Wanless says...
My favourite would have to be the 2-1 win at West Brom towards the end of last season. Yes, you can argue for the Reading and Southampton games, but this one, for me, showed everything we could have wanted.
We knew the lads could play good football, but the way they stood up to the physical threat of the Albion players and the raucous Hawthorns atmosphere showed just how well Mowbray was developing the group as first-team players.
They were able to withstand an early onslaught and get over the disappointment of conceding a hotly-contested penalty just before halftime, too.
Then came the moments we all remember from that game – Dennis Cirkin’s brace, one of which perfectly encapsulated the beautiful football Mowbray had got us playing.
It was a terrific performance – both football-wise and mentality wise – which put us in with a chance of finishing the season in the playoffs, and was the perfect illustration of what we want a Sunderland side to be – full of footballing ability, and full of character, too.