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A View From The Away End: Another Blue Monday for Sunderland after a loss on the road

It is a reassuring constant that our away following never suffers even when things are grim on the pitch.

The third Monday in January is sometimes called Blue Monday and is purportedly the most depressing day of the year. It certainly feels that way at SR5 at the moment.

We’ve completed an unwanted hat-trick this season, being battered at home by the Triumvirate of Twats in Boro, Coventry, and now the Mags, the latter of which we practically invited to make themselves at home in our ground, all drinks on the house.

Now we can add to that the fact that our new Head Coach isn’t exactly endearing himself to his many doubters, either with his performances on the touchline or in front of the media.

It’s hard to deny that as a fanbase we can sometimes be a bit bipolar, but surely there aren’t many other clubs that have to deal with this ignominy on what feels like a perpetual basis.

A trip to Kieran McKenna’s high-flying Ipswich was never likely to be the ideal tonic. The Tractor Boys have well and truly overshadowed our impressive first season back after our League One exile, putting together a formidable side composed mostly of what would previously be considered EFL journeymen, along with the odd shrewd loan signing.

When they beat us on the open day, it felt like a disastrous start to the season, but with the benefit of hindsight, there wasn’t any shame in losing to them.

For me, the 5:30 Saturday kick-off slot is the optimum time for an away trip. It allows the early part of the day to flow by at a much more leisurely pace, and it’s not so late as to require an overnight stay or a ridiculously late journey home.

The only fly in the ointment was the planned engineering works on the route from London, which entailed a Rail Replacement Bus from Colchester. Rather than jumping straight on the coach, we took the opportunity to enjoy a few beverages in England’s Oldest Town.

The pub was mostly populated by Colchester United fans ahead of their game with Bradford, and we discussed the unwelcome news that Coventry had won their weird M69 rivalry game with Leicester. As an aside, I’d happily petition for a ban on any fixtures that are given a motorway as a moniker from being considered a derby game.

The coach journey to Ipswich went pretty smoothly, with a healthy mixture of home and away supporters mingling nicely (Home Fans Only pub owners, please take note). We dropped into the Station Hotel before the match, where the Massive Lads Fans were in fine voice despite the general malaise hanging over the club at the moment. It is a reassuring constant that our away following never suffers even when things are grim on the pitch.

There was a good atmosphere inside Portman Road under the lights, but the opening exchanges were lacking in quality from both sides. The eyebrow-raising decision to start Ba over Rusyn seemed partially vindicated, as the young winger produced a lively performance, teeing up Clarke to smash home from outside the box.

The away end went wild, and given our excellent record this season when scoring first, there was genuine optimism that we could make it out of Suffolk with a positive result.

That optimism was soon dampened when Ipswich found a pretty jammy equaliser through Kayden Jackson. I’ve noticed a trend under Beale that our second-half performances seem to drop off, so Christ knows what he’s saying to them at half time.

We stayed in the game fairly well until Aouchiche’s nightmare evening began with a missed sitter and ended with a pointless foul that let Chaplin (a regular tormentor for us in his Coventry days) head in the winner.

The dubious decision to remove Pritchard was not received well, either by the fans in the stand or the midfielder himself, and Beale finds himself facing up to a crucial few weeks to try and win round at least some supporters.


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