"Alice in Sunderland"
(with apologies to Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
For both sets of supporters this match comes under the heading of “Unfinished business” following the drawn League One game last weekend. The exotically-named Max Power has had his red card rescinded and is therefore available for selection, and a prime Black Cats’ message board is divided on whether he and the other “first choice” men should be played, or rested. The reward of winning on Saturday is tantalising, of course - Sunderland fans are drooling at the thought of Newcastle United or Middlesbrough in the 3rd round, in much the same way that we would relish certain local “big clubs” … just watch the winner get F C Halifax Town.
Sunderland’s current League One form is readily available on the preview for last Saturday’s game, just add a 4-2 home win against Barnsley to be fully up to date.
Dean Keates has the twin worries of (a) lack of firepower up front - (we managed one shot on target in 90 minutes against Portsmouth) and (b) a defence that has leaked more readily since we signed a defender player/coach. The heights of a comfortable play-off position earlier this season are attributed to the relatively poor quality of the opposition at the time, and now the reality of coming up against the more talented outfits is beginning to show in our results.
One thing is certain - the financial rewards of progressing in this, the “real” Cup competition, will definitely play a part in the mind of our beloved Chairman, and any words of motivation emanating from him will no doubt be cascaded down to the entire squad…
Prediction? With both sides being well and truly “up for it” there can surely be no possibility of our keeping a clean sheet. We will have to score, and probably the most optimistic forecast will be for a 2-1 home win - Cook and Ginnelly on target.