"Newcastle had one of the world’s first Department Stores, which attracted people from Sunderland who bought luxuries … like soap"
(Gag from “I’m sorry I haven’t a clue” - chairman Rob Bryden)
It was all going so well (apparently), we had taken 7 points from 3 games and then went on to present gift-wrapped goals against Portsmouth - such is the roller-coaster experience of supporting The Saddlers. And now we visit the Black Cats, a club with more reason than most to push us further into deep doo-doos, because in 3 meetings so far this season they have yet to get the better of us. As far as League One matches are concerned, Sunderland are unbeaten at The Stadium of Light and, more worryingly, they have scored in every single League One game (home and away) bar one so it looks as though we are going to have to put the ball into their net to have any chance of coming away with anything to relieve our relegation pressure. Oh, and they’ve signed Will Grigg to rub salt into the wound … Current form:-
15 Feb Accrington Stanley (H) Drew 2-2
19 Feb Gillingham (H) Won 4-2
23 Feb Bristol Rovers (A) Won 0-2
2 Mar Plymouth Argyle (H) Won 2-0
9 Mar Wycombe Wanderers (A) Drew 1-1
12 Mar Barnsley (A) Drew 0-0
The Wycombe Wanderers game ended with something of a free-for-all, with 3 red cards being brandished - among them the Sunderland captain George Honeyman.
Dean Keates will have the option of recalling Andy Cook to the playing strength, and it can be safely assumed that the Cookie Monster will be raring to go bearing in mind the nature of the opposition (Cook is a known Newcastle United supporter, and took great delight in scoring against Sunderland for us back in December). It does make sense to feature Cook, who is still our leading scorer, but the hope has to be that the service to him consists of more than just a hopeful “hoof” upfield …
Prediction? Despite the 2-3 result against Portsmouth it would appear that we were at least equal to them, and the result could have been so different were it not for our generosity. As we do seem to have something of the Indian Sign over them, and bearing in mind they have the EFL Trophy final against Portsmouth in a couple of weeks let’s hope for a 1-1 draw, Andy Cook with a late equaliser cancelling out Will Grigg’s opener after 3 minutes!