Soapbox: none out of four

Soapbox
Salut! Sunderland desperately hopes he is proved wrong, but the punch-free drabness of our performance against Everton confirmed Pete Sixsmith‘s worst fears. Down we go again…………

Weekends are very important for me. After a hard week at the white board face running tombolas, writing articles and spending money on Amazon, the two day break allows me to recharge my batteries, usually through the medium of sport.

This weekend I had four competitive events to watch or participate in. All four were winnable and I had high hopes of achieving a very desirable and much needed foursome. As it worked out, it was an absolute nightmare.

It started badly enough with a defeat on the banks of the Tyne at the merciless hands of Joan Dawson. The Scrabble tiles were not the greatest mix but I managed to hang in and then thought I had clinched the game with a good seven letter word – Tripoli, which as I did not know at the time is a kind of rock.

As I sat there contemplating an opening win the aforementioned Ms Dawson trumped me with a dynamic triple word that left my dreams of a perfect four in tatters.

So next day, it was to off watch Shildon play at West Allotment Celtic. This was the banker of the weekend but the Railwaymen contrived to lose 3-2 with a poor refereeing decision denying us a late equaliser.

Two down and two to play. Off I went to the International Stadium at Gateshead to see Gateshead Thunder play SM Pia of France in the Rugby League Challenge Cup. This was expected to be a comfortable win for the French (formerly known as Pia Donkeys) but Gateshead pushed them all the way to lose by just two points in a thrilling and competitive game which was Rugby League at its best – and far better than the rubbish produced by the chinless wonders at Murrayfield.

That left one to go out of the four, but I was happy to have lost the first three if this meant a win at home to Everton. A draw would have been acceptable as it would have meant slipping above the Billy Smart franchise and giving us our first point against a top four contender. Alas, it was not to be.

At 4.50 on Sunday, the weekend in tatters, I began to realise that relegation was inevitable. It is not possible to win games if you do not score and, more to the point, do not even attempt to score.

Going into home game with one forward who gets no support is suicidal. Kenwyne Jones worked hard on Sunday but he reminds me of a Jack Russell Terrier in that he will head the ball up in the air and then chase after it. Fine for a small dog, not so good for a lone centre forward.

Everton were well organised, highly competent and at least two levels above us. Good sides take advantage of opposition errors and don’t make those errors themselves. Danny Collins gave the ball away needlessly, a sharp cross was whipped in and the obnoxious little toerag that calls himself Andy Johnson bundled it in. Game over.

How many times did we threaten? How many saves did Tim Howard have to make? We have got the back four sorted out but any fule nose that defending is relatively easy to organise. The attacking option is much harder and unless we play with two forwards we are off to Bloomfield Road next season. Jones needs a regular partner, be it Chopra or Prica – but not Stokes. Yet again, he failed to contribute anything to a game and it would be surprising if he featured again this season.

The next two games are easy to lose. By the time we face West Ham, they will surely have stopped shipping goals and will be on the up. Depressing, depressing, depressing. Pass the strychnine, Doctor.

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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