Five good, five bad – Sunderland (a)

Well, what a win! We don’t do things the easy way, do we? Doing the double over Sunderland but losing without scoring in two games against Rochdale and Shrewsbury in between. When we raise our games against the top sides, we look one of the best sides in the division, but we just seem to let ourselves down when the onus is on us – particularly at home. That will be the case for the final games, as Saturday’s visit to Northampton is followed by home games against Doncaster and relegated Bristol Rovers. We’re in the mix, and that’s all you can ask for!

Five good

  1. Sullay’s strike

It has to be one of our best for the season. The ball came in from a corner, was headed out to the edge of the box and Sullay Kaikai blasted past Lee Burge and into the back of the net. While last week’s winner from Luke Garbutt was scrappy, that winning goal was simply sublime. We all know Sullay has it in his locker and he’s been able to show his capabilities on an increasingly consistent basis in recent weeks. Hopefully the knock he picked up which resulted in his substitution doesn’t keep him out for the remaining games.

2. The team selection

Critchley was backed into a corner with Elliot Embleton unavailable for selection against his parent club, which meant Critch switched things up and dropped Ellis Simms for James Husband, shifted Garbutt forwards and put Kaikai in behind Yates. The gameplan was clearly about nullifying their threat from out wide and stopping the crosses at source. Grant Ward, Kenny Dougall and Sullay Kaikai were particularly good tonight in midfield.

3. Late comebacks

Pompey thought they’d won at Accrington when John Marquis scored to put them 3-2 up on 91 minutes, but then he scored at the other end and it finished 3-3. That means we’re fifth, with a game in hand on Portsmouth and Oxford. Then Crewe equalised at Charlton, meaning we’re three points clear of seventh place. If they’d both won, the pressure would be massively on, but now it remains in our own hands as we go into the final three games.

4. Strength in depth

Kevin Stewart returned to the bench, alongside Ellis Simms, Marvin Ekpiteta, Jordan Gabriel, Demetri Mitchell and Brad Holmes, as well as sub keeper Stuart Moore. We had options across the pitch for the first time in weeks, meaning Critchley could switch things up however he deemed fit.

5. Maxwell

Another couple of crucial saves from captain marvel. What about that one in injury time? I love his subtle timewasting from a winning position which has earned us plenty of points this season, and even more so his vital saves at vital moments. He’ll surely be in the running for Player of the Year. What a keeper!

Five bad

  1. A big empty stadium

Whether it was the lack of commentary for the first five minutes or the sheer size of the Stadium of Light, the match felt like it lacked an atmosphere even during the COVID era.

2. Sullay’s injury

It wasn’t exactly clear whether Kaikai had a tear or a knock, but hopefully it was just precautionary given the congested fixture schedule. It’s a shame for him and for us, because he was really coming into his own in this one after his thunderous strike.

3. No goal for Jerry

It’s no goals in six now for the main man. That’s the longest spell since his first 11 games in tangerine which were goalless. Fortunately, Jerry’s game is more than just goals and he had a good game today, so I’m reluctant to be too critical. But Jerry will be keen to add to his 20 goals so far this season. He should certainly have had at least one tonight if Ethan Robson had have squared it to him, or if his low drive had whistled past the inside of the post.

4. Grant Ward’s injury

If we lose Kaikai and Ward for the rest of the season then there’ll be no promotion. Ward was simply the best player on the pitch until his injury and is really coming into his own, so it’s important that he comes back to fitness.

5. Seven minutes of injury time

That’s probably the most tense it’s been all season, as they came at us wave-after-wave. The keeper coming up for a couple of corners, Maxwell’s save, the battling headers from Ballard and Husband. How it stayed out of our goal, I’ll never know but a win’s a win and what an important one it was.

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Published by Tom Johnson

Seaside exile living in Leeds. Been watching the Pool home and away since 2001

6 thoughts on “Five good, five bad – Sunderland (a)

  1. I would say we are the best team in the league when without the ball, but with it there is still much to improve on. The losses of Madine and Hamilton in particular have been significant, with attacking options otherwise limited to nonexistent. In general Kaikai has not been good enough this season and if Lubala or someone else(even Mitchell if was actually good enough) had been available, he surely wouldn’t have got the game time he did. Saying that, he has it in his locker to score a ‘worldie’ and obviously did that at Sunderland, but on other occasions would struggle in the National League. Therein lies the frustration with SK. In the future he must show greater consistency – or we find someone else who can.

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  2. n got negative factual . Pools perfomances over the season have varied between good to downright awful. the fact that the league is so poor has meant they have a chance of promotion. which would be good for the club..The sad thing the team at present would not be good enough to survive in the champioship without some major overhaul.

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  3. Sport and football particularly is about opinion and whether I agree or not people will always get my respect. That said, and admittedly his strike tonight was fantastic, I think kaikai is a liability. He contributes very little, shows no heart for the job and when we are poor as last Sat he disappears rather than pull his sleeves up, kick Arse and lead by example. I just don’t see it.

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  4. quite clearly you watch a different game to me or your wearing tangerine tinted glasses.I agree Kaikai has produced some consistent performances recently ?? Consistently poor in fact he was lucky to have been selected last night hes been playing that bad.You can not pick someone on the strength they will produce a man of the match or score a worldy once in 6/7 games. Yes Maxwell produced some great saves thats his job but once again he produced a howller late on and not the first time.In the championship he would be punished. Whilst he is a good keeper for this league due to him not being the tallest of keepers and he flaps at crosses I feel he will strugle in a higher league. Getting back to last nights performance it supports my view that we play better against a side that play a more attacking game.when we come up against teams that are clearly happy to defend with 10 men behind the ball we havent a clue and rely on pinching a goal by foul means or other..Were far two slow and predictable in these type games its like watching paint dry. Its good to see Ward establish himself as a regular member of the team far to often in the past hes been dropped after producing excellent performances its also good to see Dougle appears to have got over his earlier set back. Looks like we could be playing Sunderland twice in the play offs ( not the best draw ) with possibly Lincoln in the final???

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