Whwn drawing is like losing: Jake feels the pain in Spain

A magnificent performance left Sunderland feeling that a draw at the Etihad stadium, where no team had won or – until today – drawn in the Premier League this season, amounted to two cruelly lost points.

This supersedes the half time report: Justice at the interval

Leading 3-1 with nine minutes to go, and absolutely no fluke. Then the excellent Kilgallon went off injured, Kyrgiakos came on and – though I have not yet heard this enforced substitution advanced as
a reason for our late wobble – City were suddenly level.

We had not won at Man City since 1998, when Kevin Phillips scored the only goal at Maine Road. How close we got today to doing it in even better style.

Come back later for Martin’s Musings as the boss reflects on a nobly won point…

No one listening or watching to this game could be in any serious doubt that when Nicklas Bendtner put Sunderland 2-1 up, it was to give us a thoroughly deserved first-half lead. Sessegnon had played crucial parts in both goals, setting up Seb Larsson for a great finish to put us ahead and then crossing superbly for Bendtner’s header. And Sess was there again to assist Larsson to his second soon after the interval.

In the end, we could not quite hang on. But the Lads earned their point today with a display of passion, enterprise and resilience. And oh how close it was to three …

Monsieur Salut loved this, from Andy Potts, listening in Moscow, at the Blackcats list: “Enjoyed our Russian commentator telling us Cattermole without a yellow card was like a cake without cream.”

And he should have realised what was looming when another Blackcats subscriber – perhaps he should remain nameless – admitted he was about to cash in his Sunderland-to-win bet, having been offered 12-1 at 3-1, rather than wait for 17-1 if we were still ahead at the final whistle.

Here Pete Sixsmith captures the glory and shame, hope and despair, excitement and ennui of the Sunderland matchday experience. When, rarely, Pete is absent or delayed, a supersub does it for him and the seven-word verdict is preceded by an asterisk. Pete’s full analysis of the game will usually appear within a day or two.

The full Sixer’s Sevens archive – see link below – sums up what all Sunderland supporters feel, from darkest gloom to sublime elation, in the words of one who is usually there …

March 31 2012 Manchester City (1) 3 SAFC (2) 3 How frustrating when we deserved three points

March 27 2012 FA CUP 6th round replay: SAFC (0) 0 Everton (1) 2 Everton simply better. Hope they win it.

March 24 2012 SAFC (1) 3 Queens Park Rangers (0) 1 Played very well and won with ease

March 20 2012 Blackburn Rovers (0) 2 SAFC (0) 0 Very disappointing. We looked tired and uninterested

March 17 2012 FA Cup 46h round: Everton (1) 1 SAFC (1) 1 Started well, on top but pushed back

March 10 2012 SAFC (0) 1 Liverpool (0) 0 Better by far than an average Liverpool

March 4 2012 Newcastle United (0) 1 SAFC (1) 1Players gave everything and deserved to win

Click this text: just £9.50, post free, at the Salut! Sunderland Shop

To see Sixer’s Sevens in full, click here. If an asterisk precedes the comment, the words that follow are the work of someone else because Pete is for once absent from the game or his verdict has been delayed …

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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.

29 Responses to “Sixer’s Sevens: Manchester City 3 SAFC 3. And it feels like losing …” Subscribe

  1. salutsunderland March 31, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Comments welcome from all sources – within the usual rules of decency etc – but bear with us if yours is held for moderation. Shouldn’t be delayed for too long …

  2. CSB March 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    A cold analysis will say 2 points dropped…….but we were superb today, the only blemish allowing two late goals. I feel disappointed but what a feeling being disappointed not to have taken all three points at the Etihad, just shows you have far we have come with MON and how much further we can potentially go.

    Kilgallon was excellent today so lets hope it is just a minor injury.

    The response from the FA cup disappointment was just brilliant, bring on Spurs!

  3. Eric March 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    Quote from the BBC Football website. “But from the moment excellent centre-back Matt Kilgallon was replaced by (the great lumbering oaf that is) Sotirios Kyrgiakos on 80 minutes, the visitors looked vulnerable”. Obviously the words in the brackets are mine. They also said “Sunderland produced a brilliant away performance”. Much to be proud of although I am sure that greasy little toad CityBlue will have a different slant on things should he ever dare to visit our site again.

    • Eric March 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

      As I predicted 6-0 if Kyrgiakos played and it was 2-0 in the 10 minutes he was on the field, can I lay claim to the mug?

  4. Mike Sixsmith March 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm #


  5. Rob March 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    It is something to say when a draw at the Etihad feels like a loss. Man City Home Record Pld 16, W 15, D 1, L 0
    It was very close to a win. Shame Kyriagos came on the pitch otherwise things may have been different.

  6. Phil Johnson March 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    “Manchester City 3 SAFC 3. And it feels like losing …”

    That, perfectly, encapsulates my current feelings!

    I will, also, lay claim to the forecast that we would not win when Kilgallon limped off.

    Whilst the blame for the result could not be laid, directly, at the door of his replacement I can’t help but feel (having watched both late goals again and again) that nobody was out attacking the ball, on the edge of our box, which (prior to the substitution) had been one of our strengths in the preceding 85 minutes.

    As P.S., correctly stated this feels like a defeat!

    • Phil Johnson March 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

      I should have stated that I was proud of the lads today, because I was.

      NB, I thought was excellent and Seb looked to have regained his sharpness but that, still, does not take away the disappointment of the outcome.

  7. Jeremy March 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    Regardless of the way the game actually went it is a phenomenal result.

    I said to the kids when Theseus appeared that if there was ever a bloke who could guarantee the opposition two goals in ten minutes, then here he was. Though not directly responsible for either of the two late City goals I wonder how much his presence worried his defensive team mates. I know he was scaring brown stuff out of me.

    • hilary March 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

      Well put, Jeremy. On Tuesday I felt the defence were as worried about him as they were about Everton. Today the same.

      Shame about the end of the match, but the rest was great. To recover as we did after Tuesday’s defeat showed enormous spirit, and again the ability of MON to encourage and inspire his team

    • malcolm March 31, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

      It appears your reservations regarding the Greek have some foundation Jeremy and it seems I shall find it difficult to fight his corner. Haven’t seen the game yet – I was at West Auckland watching them get to Wembley but I trust MON to learn from his mistakes and if the blame can be laid at the Greek’s door it won’t have gone unnoticed. But he is working with a threadbare defence at the moment and options are limited. Bardsley certainly isn’t a centre back so it may be a case of Hobson’s choice for the manager.

  8. Nick, Manchester March 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    As a Man City fan I’m somewhat down at the minute but full marks Sunderland, we should have lost today. That said I’ve seen us lose at friggin York and Stockport so I’m sure we’ll take it on the chin.

    Fair play to the Mackems.

  9. Birflatt Boy March 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    Was I alone in thinking that had Kilgallon started against Everton that we may somehow still have been in the FA Cup?

  10. ifos March 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Kilgallon and Colback, BB, and I think we would still be in the FA cup.

    • malcolm March 31, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

      Apart from Mignolet no-one performed well on Tuesday. Everton were up for it and our boys were outplayed. I’m not sure that those two would have been able to turn around the performances of the other 8 outfield players.

  11. Jeremy March 31, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Malcolm; To be fair to Kyrgiakos (and I think that I have been, because he really is a very poor footballer). he wasn’t directly at fault for either of the goals although he was lolloping about a bit for one of them and could have closed his man down a lot better.

    MON hasn’t got any choice at the moment. (Has Bramble retired incidentally as he seems almost forgotten to the point of Angeleri lengths?). MON’s mistake was signing Kyrgiakos in the first place as every time I had seen him previously for Liverpool or Rangers he was indescribably bad on most occasions. How he is playing top flight football in any country is bewildering me. It galls me that we are stuck with him as our centre back of last resort. Surely this was the time to give Louis Lang his chance.

    MON has no choice but to play him but his judgement has to be called into question over signing him in the first place. He’s dreadful and always has been.

    • Eric March 31, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

      Louis Laing (or is it Lois Lane?) is on a seasons loan at Wycome and I think the terms of the loan preclude calling him back. Come to think of it though, Lois Lane would have been a better option than you know who.

  12. Pete Sixsmith March 31, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    Very unfair comments on Kyrgiakos, guys. Why do we always have to look for a scapegoat? He was entirely blameless for the two goals – on a wonder strike from Mad Balottelli, the other a shot through a crowded box. Kilgallon was excellent but took a knock and looked exhausted.
    Give the Greek a break, please!!!!

  13. Tim March 31, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    None of the goals were down SK today. Well, not directly anyway. The rest of the defence looked bloody jittery to me when he came on though, and I’m sure that had a lot to do with what happened in the last few minutes. He’s not too clever now is he?

  14. Eric April 1, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    In response to Pete’s comments I have had a change of heart. I think Sotirios should be lauded for the magnificent footballer that he is. He is a rock in Sunderland’s mean defence, and his ball skills tend to make a certain Lionel Messi green with envy. He will undoubedly sign a long term contract at the end of his current loan period and become club and team captain in a very short space of time. With him at the helm SAFC will go on to great and wonderful things. He will eventually replace Martin O’Neill as manager and lead us to Champions League glory before leaving us to become manager of Greece who will win back to back World Cups and European Championships. He will then retire from football and become a UN Ambassador for World Peace solving conflicts around the globe. He will be knighted by the King and made a saint by the Pope. He will take the name St April the First.

  15. Pete Sixsmith April 1, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    Er, no he won’t Eric….. but he will tide us over a difficult time until he heads back to Wolfsburg.

  16. Plan B April 1, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Am I the only one that thinks the greek played well when he came on, and had a calming influence on our defence?
    Only joking. Maybe Mignolet felt like Jeremy to the point he forgot he had shots to save.

    • malcolm April 1, 2012 at 11:58 am #

      An old saying that my step mother used a lot when she was still alive was “you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face.” This applies I think to the comments that Kyrgiakos should not be on the park. Let’s face it the defence is depleted and MON should be credited with the fact the team is still getting decent results, the replay being the exception.

      The criticism that he should be chastised for signing the Greek on loan holds little water in my book. I am sure that during the window the club looked at any number of players to cover a defensive situation that was approaching crisis point. He, like Bridge, is an emergency loan deal and IMHO is being made the scapegoat in the same way that many of his critics were writing off Bendtner earlier in the season, demanding his replacement with Wickham or Noble.

      He is another emergency signing, brought in to cover a difficult situation the manager had to deal with. My God we were heading for the drop when O’Neill came to the club and now the talk once again is that the club is heading towards the European qualification places.

      Who, in the dark days of October wouldn’t have swapped the situation we are in now for the one back then. I for one have faith in O’Neil not making the same mistake twice. If he is prepared to let our young players go out on loan and lead the line at Hartlepool, I am sure he has given it lots of thought and that long term it will be in the club’s interest.

      Likewise if he signs a player, on loan or otherwise, and chooses to play him then I will trust his judgement. Trouble is it’s so hypothetical. If MK had stayed on would the result have been different. There seems to be a lot of feeling that it would have. I’m not so sure. As Bing Crosby once sang – “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” Ha’way The Lads.

      • Plan B April 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

        Good post Malcolm, we’ll never know wether we’d have held on with MK on the pitch. Mignolet was badly at fault for the goals and no-one else. Looks like Kilgallon is ahead in the pecking order though and rightfully so, I don’t think the lads every really put a foot wrong for us.

  17. malcolm April 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    I agree that Kilgallon has been a revelation under MON. He certainly appears more confident and capable than before MON’s arrival. I have no argument that the manager should pick his best starting XI and I believe that he knows his players better than those of us who only get to see them on match days.

    It is constructive to debate where the team can be strengthened. It can be constructive to debate what the best starting XI is, the substitutions made and players left out of the squad but I don’t think there is anything to be gained by calling for a player to be left out when to do so would limit the manager’s options still further.

    But then I’m still waiting for Angeleri to make an appearance! 🙂

  18. Pete Sixsmith April 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    How was Mignolet “badly at fault” for the two goals? One was a real fizzer, the other came through a crowd of players. Can’t we stop looking for someone to blame.

    • dave April 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

      I take your point about looking for blame, but surely we need to be deciding quickly who will be our 2 keepers for next year as we won’t be able to keep all 3, so it is something that needs to be considered.
      I don’t think he was to blame for the first of the 2 because it was a cracking shot. The second was hit straight at him and he wrong-footed himself by taking a step to the right. Even then he HAS to make an effort to save the ball. He has been quite good this season, with some solid performances. However, he was clearly to blame for the first at Blackburn and I have no doubt whatsoever that Gordon would have saved the last goal yesterday (and Westwood probably would have done as well).
      He is a very good second keeper but has cost us a number of points this season. Off the top of my head :

      1 point v Newcastle at home (though he could claim to have got that point back away with the pen save)
      1 Point at home to Arsenal
      1 Point (at least) v Blackburn
      2 points yesterday

      I know this is a point that causes many arguments and is a matter of opinion, and also that many others completely disagree with me, but I don’t think that we can afford to be losing so many points.

  19. Keith Judd April 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Looking to blame anyone after the performance the lads put in yesterday is pretty sad. I thought the whole lot of them did well and made Man C look no more than average for a lot of the game. A fact that their supporters were more than happy to concede on Talk Sport and Radion 5 which I was listening to on the way home – fair play to them, they must have been badly dissappointed but still sang our praises. Sometimes we just have to accept shit happens and we don`t get what we deserve. The time to even think of being critical is when MO has his own players in – that time is a long way off if what has happened this season is improved upon. On the topic of goalkeepers, was Westwoods appearance on the bench a sign that Craig gordon is on his way out.

  20. Tim April 1, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    “fair play to them, they must have been badly dissappointed but still sang our praises.”

    Badly disappointed? 3-1 down with five minutes left. Yeah, they must be gutted!

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