The atmosphere at the Stadium of Light as Sunderland pressed for the equaliser against Crystal Palace, which Fabio Borini finally supplied in style, got Paul Summerside thinking.
Call it positive thinking, or plain old clutching at straws over post-match pints at the Avenue, but he reckons we are more fired up as a side in evening games, especially at home and when – as is usually the case as a season draws to a close – there’s a lot to play for. There’s one such game to come in the run-in -the still-to-be-rescheduled Everton home game – but Paul senses, maybe, more to come. He also takes heart from the competing priorities of some of the teams we’re still to play …
Sifting through SAFCs remaining fixtures, I found myself scrambling around for the results that would give us the magical 38 points.
It was really difficult, I must admit,to get us past 36, leaving us with the unenviable task of having to beat one of the big boys at home.
Arsenal, Everton, Leicester and Chelsea at first glance, present a daunting set of home fixtures, with little hope of any return. However, there’s a chink of light at the end of this dark tunnel that offers hope…. and it comes from competitions in which we are not involved, the FA Cup and Champions League.
Chelsea, having a run all the way to the final, will leave them basically fielding a reserve side, in the last game of the season.
Bigger hope however, comes in the form of the FA cup, in which Everton, Watford and Arsenal still compete.
The Everton home game is to be moved to midweek, and we get a Saturday off to recharge batteries.
Should Arsenal see off Hull, they would play Watford for a place in the semi, and our game on April 12 could be moved to a midweek. Same scenario.
Should Watford progress to the Final they will surely rest players, giving us a better chance when we meet in the penultimate game of the season.
Of course this is mostly speculation, but playing Everton and Arsenal midweek offers us a much better chance of getting something from the game.
Our midweek crowds are simply awesome, the latest being Palace at home, where I’m sure they sang Fabios shot into the net.
I recall my best recent Sunderland game in the great escape under Gus, where we played West Brom and comfortably won 2-0 to secure Premier League status.
The crowd amounted not to a 12th man that night but 12th and 13th combined. The noise was deafening, giving the lads all the motivation they needed.
Other memorable night games under the lights include Man Utd away and Newcastle away in the rain.
You just can’t beat the atmosphere of a full house midweek game, especially one with loads at stake. It might just be our secret weapon in this season’s “great escape”.
So I will be watching the cups with great interest, and cheering on Chelsea, Everton, Arsenal and/or Watford.
You just never know.
Paul Summerside on himself: I’m a retired engineer formerly working at Rolls Royce Aero Engines in Sunderland. I’m married to Sharon and have two daughters Rebecca 16 and Jessica 11.
We have season tickets in the family zone, and are basically Sunderland daft! I’ve followed the Lads all my life from the Roker End to the Fulwell to the Paddocks to the Clock Stand seats to the SoL. I love match days,the crack pre and post game, even if the result doesn’t go our way. My favourite ever player…Super Kev. Favourite away day…Bury away promotion day. Proudest moment…taking the family for cheesy chips on Wembley way.