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Match Report: Blackburn 2-0 Sunderland (Sunderland Fan's Perspective)

Sunday 25th March 2012
Sunderland arrived at Ewood Park with a sense that the club had arrived at a crossroad in their season. Clearly, FA Cup the priority, but there was still a genuine opportunity for the Black Cats to catapult themselves further up the Premier League table.

It's down to the nitty gritty as far as the season goes, and it is certainly the time those battling against relegation stood up and were counted. Blackburn certainly did that in their last outing away against Wolves, and were looking to repeat that feat.

The away side made two changes from that which battled to a draw against Everton three days earlier. David Vaughan was preferred to Jack Colback, who could feel disgruntled given his latest performances, and there was a debut for Sotiris Kyrgiakos as John O'Shea had picked up a niggle. Rovers, unsurprisingly, named an unchanged side.

If you are hoping to read about a scintillating encounter, I am sorry to disappoint, the first half consisted of very little chances and zero from the away side. Yes that's right, zero.

Yakubu came close early in the game; Junior Hoilett darted past Michael Turner's sluggish attempt at a challenge, feeding the Nigerian international. Simon Mignolet managed to save with his leg, but needed help from stand-in skipper Phil Bardsley to clear impressively off the line. Martin and Marcus Olsson looked very dangerous on the left, and soon carved an opportunity between them as Martin had two attempts from a difficult angle, blazing the second well over.

The last real opportunities of note in the first half stemmed initially from a set piece. Morten Gamst Pedersen's free kick was flashed wide by the head of Grant Hanley, followed quickly by a wayward effort from Mauro Formica. So it didn't start well for the Wearsiders, surely it can only get better…maybe not.

Blackburn's clear supremacy paid dividends in the 59th minute as Mignolet's punch fell straight to Hoillet, who lashed home a lovely finish. This all came from a long throw, which would have Martin O'Neill fuming on the side lines.

It seemed this finally woken Sunderland, Nicklas Bendtner might have been a bit sharper to latch onto James McClean's low cross, but Olsson was quicker and did well to get in the way. The pivotal moment in the match was to eventually follow, another low cross from McClean though substitute Ji Dong Won bafflingly ballooned over from a maximum of three yards. Ah well, we will always have Manchester City I guess.

Rovers capitalised on the miss, just seven minutes later and Yakubu got himself yet another goal for the season, expertly nodding home Bradley Orr's cross. Nothing more than they deserved and it was clearly game over.

An overall poor encounter, but let's not try and gloss over what could barely even be described as a performance from Sunderland who deserved to be beaten. Blackburn exploited the left wing through the pace of the Olsson twins well and truly finding out Sebastian Larsson, more than a third of their attacks came through this route.

It was a game where you felt Sunderland had given up trying to climb the table, which is so frustrating. I do not necessarily expect three points at Ewood Park or indeed the Hawthorns, but I at least expect us to give these sides a game. We did not. That is what is frustrating.

Man of the match is a difficult one, but as the only Sunderland player to show any form of threat, it has to be given to McClean. I cannot really elaborate too much more on that one really. Craig Gardner and Larsson were desperately poor.

Credit were it's due, Blackburn looked a totally different side to that which O'Neill recorded victory in his first game in charge. Plenty of attacking intent and there is genuine quality up front too, something you cannot say about too many times around the bottom. They will be fine.

Gary McLaughlin
Sunderland born. Sunderland bred. Maybe a tad Sunderland biased too but nevermind. Love to put fingers to keys.

Total articles: 29

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