• Sunderland 2-2 Saints

    Saints failed to kill-off Sunderland in the first half and paid for it dearly as the game wore on. We left the Stadium of Light with a barely held point and two potentially horrible injuries to Dejan Lovren and Gaston Ramirez.

    After a turbulent week it was back to business for Mauricio Pochettino and our player on Wearside as we named arguably our strongest team with the exception of Calum Chambers at right-back. Nathaniel Clyne featured on the bench.

    Sunderland have been experiencing something of a renaissance in recent games but they way Gus Poyet's team started the first half was baffling. Rather then trying to distrupt our strongest facet, our midfield they stood off and let us play, no pressure came and we immediately took advantage of this.

    On the edge of the penalty area Jay Rodgriguez chested the ball down and under minimal pressure lined up an arrowed shot into the Sunderland net. It was a dream start for the few hundred fans who battled cancelled trains and a massive journey to make it for the midday kick-off.

    Rodriguez beautiful hit opener capped a great start

    Sunderland where being their own worst enemy as the half drew on as they continued to let us play, we however didn't look like getting out of second gear ourselves and failed to make the most of several chances. Firstly, Jack Cork failed to make the most of a rushed clearance as he took his time to take a shot from 40 yards with Mannone out of his goal. Luke Shaw then saw a shot deflect off Adam Johnson and the goalpost before Rickie Lambert scuffed a shot wide. Jay Rodriguez then failed to score in a one-on-one position against Mannone as we once again tore into the Sunderland back-line.

    It took until the 31st minute for the second to come as Dejan Lovren shook of the light attention he was receiving from the Mackem's defence at a corner to athletically volley the ball in. Boos rang out from the home faithful as their team seemed to be surrendering the fixture but a goal against the run of play soon re-ignited their interest.

    A floating ball into the Saints penalty area found Fabio Borini, un-marked and played onside by Jose Fonte clear in front of Artur Boruc, he scuffed his shot into the ground and saw it bounce beyond the outstretched hand of Artur Boruc into the far corner of the net.

    Saints regained control of the game's momentum after this but could only reflect on the needlessly precarious position that the scoreline now reflected.

    HT 2-1

    It's a game of two halves we are so often told, truer words couldn't have been spoken as Sunderland rallied and introduced Craig Gardner and Jack Colback to provide extra impetus in their central midfield. After Rodriguez once again fluffed his lines and shot directly at Mannone and Jose Fonte headed directly at the sprightly Italian Sunderland took control. We struggled to lift our game to match our hosts and suddenly had to take sustained rearguard action to keep the wolves from the door.

    Fabio Borini fired in after running on from an offside position to send a warning shot across our bows, before Sunderland struck the decisive blow that ensured the points would be shared. Adam Johnson found himself in space to the side of our defense as the Mackems overloaded our left flank. Weaving on the ball he found half a yard of space in the penalty area to power the ball into the top cornr at Boruc's near-post. Boruc almost halfheartedly raised his hands to block the shot but the winger's power saw the ball ricochet into the net, our number one goalkeeper once again was raising questions over his consistency.

    The introduction of Gaston Ramirez looked to revive us briefly as he sought out possession and started to run at the Sunderland defence only for him to be aggressively taken out by Wes Brown as he lined up a shot. Brown had glanced the merest of touches on the ball and avoided a free-kick but his follow through on Ramirez' ankle saw his foot twist under his leg and forced the Uruguayan off after only the smallest of cameos. A further injury to Dejan Lovren as he attempted to stop the resulting counter attack saw two key men removed from the action on stretchers with 3 minutes of normal time remaining. Yoshida and Ward-Prowse took their places as we looked to see the game out.

    Brown's ruthless yet unpunished challenge saw Ramirez removed from the action on a stretcher

    A late Boruc save from Steven Fletcher almost redeemed our goalkeeper but at the final whistle, despite the domination showed early on we were barely holding on by our fingertips.

    FT 2-2


    Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Alonso, O'Shea, Cattermole (Gardner, 62), Brown, Larsson (Colback, 63), Johnson, Ki, Borini, Altidore (Fletcher, 72)

    Unused Substitutes: Celustka, Pickford, Giaccherini, Roberge

    Saints: Boruc, Chambers, Shaw, Lovren (Yoshida, 87), Fonte, Cork, S. Davis, Schneiderlin, Lallana (Ramirez, 74. Ward-Prowse, 87) Lambert, Rodriguez

    Unused Substitutes: K. Davis, Clyne, Do Prado, Hooiveld

    Rodriguez, 4
    Lovren, 31
    Borini, 32
    Johnson, 71
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