City well beaten by Black Cats. Website reaction

Last updated : 27 February 2005 By Michael Morris
Another defeat, another sending off, what a shocking week for the City.

Against Millwall we can feel that we were the better team and deserved more than a 1 - 0 defeat but against Sunderland the result if anything flattered us. It could have been 3 or 4 - 0 quite easily.

The day started early, just after 7am from Cardiff, then an 8am departure from Newport after picking up NigelBlues. Thankfully we had a clear run with no delays and we were in Sunderland by 12.45.

The Stadium of Light cuts an imposing profile on the Wearside skyline. These days there are many "new" stadiums so the effect of seeing one is not quite the same but it is an impressive venue nonetheless.

With two hours to go before kick off we decided to find a local watering hole for some refreshments. The area the stadium is situated in is close to the river and the industry that comes with it.

We found a small working mens club and approached the door. We were welcomed by the doorman (we had kids with us in City colours). Thinking we'd be turned away as it was full of Sunderland suporters he said

"You have to pay to come in here like. It's 20p each. The bairns can come in for free." (add your own Geordie style accent).

We coppered up, found the required 40p and in we went to a Sunderland AFC shrine. The walls were covered in huge pictures of Roker Park and Sunderland crowds and occasions from years gone by.

An added bonus was the beer was less than £1.70 a pint. As if by magic another City fan appeared, he was with his daughter. Obviously one of the affluent ones as he was able to dig deep and find the 20p required to enter.

Onto the stadium. The pre match entertainment consisted of a double act singing Karoke style songs, Bryan Adams and Mel C and Bob Marley's Jamming given an airing.

The signal that kick off time was approaching came when Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights was sent through the p.a. system. The teams entry to the pitch was accompanied by Republica's "Ready to Go", which is also the name of the Sunderland fanzine. Both pieces of music so loud you could feel it vibrating through you.

The ground itself is superb but not finished. Two sides have three tiers with only two tiers on the other two sides (all sides join together for a bowl effect). Apparantly they have planning permission to make it three tiers all round but when they can't fill 48,500 why should they make it 64,000.

The game exploded into life in the opening minutes. Graham Kavanagh performed brain surgery on Rhys Weston using his studs and while young Rhys searched for his grey matter on the pitch Sunderland kept the ball and proceded to score through Gary Breen. Less than 5 mins gone and we were facing an impossible task.

There could be an outside call for Sunderland to have done the decent thing and kicked the ball out of play but the goal came some 20 seconds after Kav nearly decapitated Rhys so I guess they can be allowed the advantage they played.

Rhys was stretchered off last time he played here, at least this time he was able to walk off while holding his head together.

Darren Williams came onto a hero's welcome, from the Sunderland fans. He was very highly thought of before moving to Ninian Park. I don't for a minute think he expected to be on the pitch after only 5 minutes.

City had possession during the game but could not create chances. Those that did come didn't trouble the keeper. When City had possession there was two Sunderland players closing down the City threat. When Sunderland had possession they always found a man in space. To me that summed up the game. They were better at football than we were.

The second goal was no great shock, a cross from the right was headed past Alexander by Marcus Stewart. Tony Vidmar was easily beaten and at 2 - 0 down it was going to be damage limitations.

A half time cross bar challenge was interesting to watch until it became apparant that none of the chaps selected from the crowd could hit a barn door with a banjo let alone the cross bar with a football from 20 yards. Both Sunderland competitors and the two City fans missed all their kicks so I guess they shared bugger all as their reward.

The second half saw more Sunderland pressure and more chances but they were lacking when it came to scoring goals. They still held the upper hand and still looked a better team but when it came to the business end of the pitch they didn't quite hit it off.

Because of this City were never truly out of the game. The pressure built when Graham Kavanagh seemed to just hoof a ball that had come back to him after his corner kick. I thought his kick was speculative at best, Tony Vidmar then eclipsed him by volleying the ball into the net with Mhyre flat footed. It was that much of a fluke that the Sunderland players had virtually put the ball back on the centre spot before the City fans at the other end of the stadium had realised we had scored.

Finally City had the upper hand. Unfortunately Alan Lee, on as a sub for Jerome, took those words too seriously and uppered his hand (well elbow) on Steve Caldwell and thanks to an eagle eyed linesman, Lee got an early bath. About 2 mins earlier than the rest of them.

City had a couple more chances to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat. A corner came to nothing but a free kick awarded 25 yards out was struck well by Danny Gabbidon but a foot wide.

The final whistle brought a sigh of relief initially from the home fans and then a double whammy. Gillingham had beaten Wigan. Hysteria for the home support, despair for the away support. Now we are only three points from the drop zone.

Outside the ground there seemed to be about 10,000 police officers larging it for their own ego's.
There may have been a push or a shove as 33,000 or so fans emptied into the streets together but did it warrant the masses of plod? (right).

The hour it took to get out of Sunderland was equally as nail biting. We listened to Wales beating France in the Rugby. I'm not a massive fan of the oval balled game but Wales is Wales and I'll happily support us whatever sport we are playing.

So at 6pm we hit the A19 on the West side of Sunderland and after another cracking run we were back in South Wales before 10.30. Thanks to Nigel for keeping me company on the way back. His snores made sure I had no chance of falling asleep at the wheel.

I would have writen this website reaction on Saturday night but 9 hours of driving took it's toll and I fell asleep while watching the end of match of the day.