Pete Sixsmith: ‘was I seeing things?’

Before heading off to Yorkshire for Rugby League, Pete Sixsmith decided to share his happy experience of attending a home match involving Sunderland. Really! On a day when wins for Hull and Swansea brought the inevitable closer still, he saw a victory over Arsenal …

What a pleasure to see a home win, giving us every chance of staying in the top league next season. What a pleasure to beat one of the “Gang of Four” who have made the top four their own for a number of years. And what a pleasure to see a home grown player grab a late winner and see the team off to a rousing ovation from the home support, leaving the Gooners fans crestfallen. It was the kind of day that makes one proud to be a Sunderland supporter.

If only it could have been the first team and not the Under 23s

It hadn’t started well. A simple enquiry about why a function on my smart phone wasn’t working led to the 12-year-old in the EE shop selling me a new phone and all the palaver that goes with switching data, apps and functions over. It looks nice and makes some interesting noises but did I really need it?

Probably not, but it will keep a South Korean worker in a job for a while.

Hetton basked in some spring sunshine although there was a nip in the air. There was a solid turn out of The Irregulars, supplemented by Neil Scott, whose company is always enjoyable, and the aforementioned Gooners, Mike Amos and Senior Son Adam, having a day out from North Yorkshire and Darlington respectively.

We turned a strong side out, with Donald Love, George Honeyman and Lyndon Gooch all having had some first team experience this year. Honeyman and Gooch were busy while Love looked an accomplished player and was withdrawn at half time, suggesting that he may be in the 17 for the Battle of the Pygmies at the Riverside on Wednesday night.

Of the others, Elliot Embleton impressed, George Brady and Thomas Beadling tracked and tackled effectively and Max Stryjek looked like a possible second goalkeeper for next season. Joel Asoro was disappointing and needs to improve his touch for next season if he is to fulfil his early promise.

Arsenal scored first when their strong No.9 Donyell Malen took advantage of the slow turning Brady to fire across Stryjek and into the net. Celebrations from the visitors who had stayed the previous night at the Raddison in Durham but had failed to visit the Victoria, Dun Cow or Elm Tree, being tucked up in bed by coach Steve Gatting (brother of Champion Lunch Eater Mike) before Graham Norton had started.

It was Gooch who levelled with a mis-hit shot that went under the (very) late dive of keeper Hugo Keto and then it was game on. Like their elders and betters, Arsenal stroked the ball around but never really threatened. Their best moment came when Ashley Maitland-Niles was tackled and rolled around as if he were a cheese descending a hill in Cheltenham. Not surprisingly, he was up and about a couple of minutes later. Equally unsurprisingly he got no sympathy from the crowd.

The winner came late but it was a well taken one. Luke Molyneux had come on for Gooch and offered some physicality up front. He has progressed this year and has also bulked up. At this level, we have a small team compared with Arsenal and a tiny team compared with Manchester United and Everton, so someone who can use his strength like the Newton Aycliffe born Molyneux is more than useful.

Joel Osoro Championship contender?

He latched on to a long clearance/raking pass from Ethan Robson, was helped by Keto who came, stopped and then retreated but he also outstripped the centre half to get into the box and plant a good shot into the net. Much joy on the terraces and that was equalled when Stryjek made a fine save to prevent an equaliser.

Much of the conversation was about who may make it into the Championship team for next season. Stryjek, Gooch and Love look good enough. Asoro and Maja need another year at this level, Molyneux as well. There was an element of gloom amongst the Irregulars but season cards had been renewed, although probably more out of habit than conviction.

From there it was a short drive down to Spennymoor to watch three<

Hetton regulars in Jamie Chandler, Adam Mitchell and David Dowson turn out for Spennymoor in their final league game against Leicestershire’s second highest ranked side, Barwell. Chandler scored a fine goal to seal a 2-0 win for the Moors while the other two appeared from the bench.

The Brewery Field has at least one more game this season as Nantwich Town are visitors on Tuesday night in the Play Off semi-final and should Moors win that one, they will play either Stourbridge or Workington for a place in National League (North).

And the phone seems to be working well. Happy days.

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by – and principally for – supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

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