Few things are better than watching the red and white wizards in the gleaming West London sunshine after a two-week long hiatus due to another largely unwanted international pause.
Heading into the break Sunderland had chalked up a three-game unbeaten run, and things had slowly, but surely started to click after a slightly disjointed start to the campaign.
With Chris Rigg and Jobe captaining their respective England age groups, Trai Hume and Dan Ballard being “Sunderland friends!” on Northern Ireland duty, and Jewi rattling a few of that rabble up the road playing for Costa Rica at St. James’ Park, Mogga had a solid block of time to bed in the new recruits, and implement any changes he had deliberated over in the weeks preceding.
The concerning rumours prior to the game that two usual starters were ruled out through injury certainly wasn’t the best start to the weekend, but as we’ve seen in recent weeks, depth hasn’t been an issue. When team news hit our feeds, Bradley Dack and Dennis Cirkin were the glaring omissions from the matchday squad.
With Mason Burstow given the nod for his Sunderland debut off the back of Dack’s absence and Niall Huggins in for Cirkin, the side remained unchanged from the 5-0 thumping of Southampton.
There were a few familiar faces scattered among the opposition, and understandably, they were greeted with immediate condemnation from the red and white army in attendance.
With a rock ‘n roll Jesus parading the touchline in his unbuttoned shirt, tight trousers, and flowing locks and a certain ginger-haired Judas, the affair had quite the biblical ring to it.
The first-half was a slow-burner, Sunderland’s early pressure lacked in the way of end product, even with a young Burstow out to prove his worth. Against the run of play (if there even was one), QPR struck first blood with a well taken shot from outside the box. 1-0 QPR.
Playing in our divisive pink and purple strip, we huffed and puffed, but couldn’t really get a hold of a typically slippery Ainsworth side, who seemed to have the whole of West London behind the ball at times. When Jobe finally did have the ball in the net, it was typically flagged for offside.
Was it going to be one of those days? Luckily, nah.
Within minutes, much to the delight of the 3,000 strong Sunderland backing, Judas Colback saw red with a studs-up reducer on Jobe. Adios, son.
Now against 10-men, it was very much a case of when rather than if, and on the stroke of half-time, after some patient build-up, and somewhat of a fortuitous deflection Jack Clarke drew level. 1-1 at the break.
Cries for Paddy Roberts were answered by our own messiah on the touchline, who slung the silky returnee straight back into the action as second-half proceedings were about to get underway.
Game changer. Roberts’ impact was felt almost immediately, his flicks around the corner, and link-up play with Abdoullah Ba and Pritchard were tremendous, and we began to turn the screw.
After some nimble interplay, Pritchard was one-on-one with Asmir Begovic, who heroically saved. Fortunately, the big Bosnian tipped on to the incoming Dan Ballard who nestled the ball home in front of a bouncing away end, 1-2.
Several chances came and went, with Jobe and Abdoullah Ba coming close, and arguably, should have made it three and four-one. Yet, on the 81st minute, new signing and debutant, Adil Aouchiche’s cross found Ba at the back stick who didn’t need asking twice to rifle the ball home to put us out of sight.
Now four unbeaten, we go into wednesday’s game with Blackburn with our tails up and truly buoyant. With Roberts back, Aouchiche already looking a canny, albeit raw acquisition, and our creative juices in full flow, long may this rich vein of form continue.
Ha’way the Lads!