Sunderland claim win in disjointed friendly..

Nottingham Forest – 0
Sunderland – 1

An impressive following from Sunderland for a midweek friendly

An impressive following from Sunderland for a midweek friendly

Neither optimism nor despair were offered in this fairly pedestrian friendly; for me personally the law of Sod dictated that I chose the less exciting of the two friendlies at the City Ground this season to attend.  And so it proved; a very low-paced first half was followed by a more disjointed second, with the game decided by a well-worked goal where the lively Stokes played an excellent ball from the left cross the penalty area into the path of the onrushing Richardson who made no mistake smashing the ball in emphatically.

Forest played a mysteriously vague formation, that relied on Bennett and Chambers to push forward to give us any width at all; which is part of the negative signs – because it leaves us frightfully exposed down the flanks, which will be no surprise to anyone who watched games last season.  That said, there was promise early doors when Earnshaw did well to flick a Chambers ball down for James Reid who spannered it into the away end.  Another chance for the Welshman came from a freekick which dipped a bit too late to force Gordon into a save.

His third chance came after he somehow beat the giant Nosworthy in the air, but wasn’t able to direct his header at all.  The other thing to be pleased about was my first viewing of Guy Moussi – whose ungainly appearance belies his ability to pick out a decent pass; but also doesn’t disguise his no-nonsense approach to scrapping in midfield to win the ball.  It’s early to be making snap judgements either way, but he certainly looks promising.

A less impressive number of Reds fans in attendance as the teams take to the pitch...

A less impressive number of Reds fans in attendance as the teams take to the pitch

Smith was called into action after a very-rotund-looking Andy Reid found ex-Sheep botherer Higginbotham to head goalward; and shortly after it was only a deflection off Wilson that prevented Daryl Murphy hitting the target for the Mackems after a mistake by James Reid.  As the first half wore on Sunderland did start to ascend toward the end of the half, with Forest increasingly looking limited on ideas to convert possession in defence to meaningful attack.  

At half time McGugan and Reid were withdrawn for McCleary and the hitherto-unheard-of triallist from Borussia Dortmund; a striker/winger (apparently, according to hasty web research – although he played in McGugan’s position during this game) from Sierra Leone.  He looked comfortable on the ball, but lacked match-sharpness; again, far too early to make any judgements.  He is apparently a highly rated youngster in Germany – but then again, so was Eugen Bopp!

The second half saw Sunderland start as they’d left off, their new signing Diouf (who was roundly booed every time he got the ball) bringing another save from Smith with a powerful drive after cutting in from the right hand side; before being victim of a mass Roy Keane substitution which the hopeless tannoy announcer didn’t really make very clear at all – although ex-Reds Darren Ward and Michael Chopra were among the players arriving on the pitch, as was Anthony Stokes.

Excitement rippled around the ground when we thought we’d taken the lead, or at least our end of the Brian Clough Stand did – Moussi unleashed a powerful drive from 25 yards out, and as it went past a despairing dive from Ward it ricocheted off the stantion and back across the back of the goal – giving it the appearance of striking the post and in from a certain angle (those of you in the Trent End and Main Stand could probably see clearly it was heading wide).

However, it was increasingly difficult for Forest to craft chances – Earnshaw cut a lonely figure up front with no real link play between midfield to attack (or often between defence to midfield).  Sunderland dominated further and Stokes started to find inroads down the left side, with Chambers frequently out of position through his attacking duties, and it was from here that he was able to find time and space to pick out an excellent assist to Richardson’s emphatic finish.

Shortly after when bursting through he should have laid Chopra on with a clear sight of goal from close range, but he opted for greediness on this occasion and Wilson was able to backtrack to tidy up.  A couple of late half-chances came for McCleary, who nudged the ball over an onrushing Ward but agonisingly just wide of the goal, and shortly after Sinclair was able to dispossess Ward on the goalline, but couldn’t quite fashion anything in the shape of a cross or a shot to take advantage of the prone goalkeeper.

Higginbotham was withdrawn with no replacement, presumably due to injury, leaving the visitors with only ten men – but it didn’t really make much difference as the Black Cats were content to play the game out and Forest didn’t really seem to have the guile to take advantage of the extra man – and so the game ended; it was disappointing that there wasn’t more excitement, but it was encouraging that the Reds made a decent showing against a strong – albeit not playing at full pelt – Sunderland team.

The earlier excitement at being back at the City Ground was quelled somewhat by some of the concerning features of the game; but there was plenty to be heartened by too.  I can’t wait for the season proper to begin, because at least then we’ll know what is a genuine tactical decision and what is perfectly reasonable pre-season tinkering and experimenting.

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12 Responses

  1. Hi in a new poster been reading your blog for a while now.

    Im Cubbo from Australia.

    I watched the game was thrilled to be watching forest on tv was well impressed with moussi thought he was dominant also the fact that we continued to push with all the youngsters out thee was positive.

    Wasnt overly impressed with Earnshaw he didnt get too many chances some dodgy commentary on sentanta saying that forest need a new striker when tyson, cole and garner were all missing.

    All in all great to see forest cant wait for the season proper i can really feel something special

    cmon you reds

  2. Only 1 up front at home. CC is certainly our weakest link and with our squad this year I expect us to get into a playoff place come the end of the season. I can only imagine how Earnie felt being alone up front with little service.Hardly motivating stuff. I hope cc has learnt from tonight…… Bring on Reading !!!!www.website.ws/alansand

  3. Moussi certainly looked the part. Not sure about our Drogba lookalike trialist though, the Championship is a fast paced hard league and he looks like he wants too much time on the ball.
    Felt a bit sorry for Earnie. I imagine when he signed he assumed he’d have a strike partner, not have to play up front alone against 2 massive defenders…welcome to Colins world!

    Still, not too disheartened. We did play some nice quick football in the first half.

    Just a word about the Sunderland fans though. They may have been quiet but how many other teams would bring that many to a midweek away friendly?!

  4. Yeah not a bad performance, Everton game was better.

    As some of you have already mentioned, Guy Moussi is looking very much the deal of the summer for the reds. Against Everton he was everywhere and last night too I thought, composed on the ball and very strong, also pretty decent in the air. He’s fast becoming a favourite of mine and chants of “MOUSS-EH, MOUSS-EH” (in true Nottingham accent) are already developing in the A Block, bloody brilliant the A Block, hope the fans are loud all over the ground for the coming season!

    Just read that Tyson’s hamstring is f**ked again AAAAAAAARRRGH, thought they had him sorted. I like him as a player and when he’s fit has the potential to be devastating, but it seems that he will always be prone to this same injury because a lot of his game relies on explosive bursts of pace which, all too often, ruins his hamstrings. I think we should’ve sold him to Bristol City or whoever, if they were willing to pay around £1 million and spent that on a slightly better built goalscorer. Having seen the last two matches we definitely lack muscle/height up front which does concern me, especially since we sold Holt (who I never was a fan of due to his lack of knowledge regarding the off-side rule, among other things) and more importantly strength-wise, Agogo.

    Anyway, still time to bring in some quality and very much looking forward to the Reading game (I just hope that players like Harper, Hunt and Shorey etc.. move back to Premier).

    One final thing; the new trialist Sahr Siniseh (spelling prob wrong) did look very out of it last night but only arrived in the country middle of Tuesday so no time to settle in really. He should be playing against County on Saturday and therefore we’ll get to see whether he’s actually any good.

    p.s. Get fit Anderson!

    YOU REDS FOREVER!!!

  5. Nice to see some rough reports, nice to here 1 of our signings is working out. Forest’s squads a bit of an injury list. Cole, Morgan, Tyson, Anderson, Cohen & 1 more I think are all injured but Cohen & Morgan should be fit for County.

    I don’t know but I still think we need Championship experience in the team although we do still have a few who were there 3 years ago but the league has changed since then. Still….

    Was good to see the kids being played during the friendly too but time will tell if they can cut it in this league & I’m sure they can.

  6. Yiannike – Garner is the other injury to add to that list. 3 out of 4 strikers injured is worrying so close to the start of the season but I’m sure Colin with have one of his magic formations up his sleeve to address that.

    We’ve been promoted and seem to have bought very well so should be positive but many fans are naturally concerned about 433 / 451 formation.

  7. One more thing – does the non appearance of Steven Hughes last night mean we have decided not to take him on?

  8. [...] 1-0 loss, and a performance that didn’t threaten the Sunderland goal much. Reading what some people have to say, the season is already over and Calderwood should be sacked. Allowing for a heavy dose of [...]

  9. I don’t know what you people are saying, but I AM EXCITED AS I AM COMING OVER FOR THE OPENING GAME!
    nffc and Egor the Red, if you read this, you got mail!
    Cheers everyone!

  10. Nice one Vass. Just make sure you got the day and time correct, otherwise you’ll have to re-arrange things………………yep, thats me then!!

  11. just glad i choose the everton game to go and wathc out of the two :D

  12. Lucky you Vas, it’s a Sunday KO 1.15pm UK time!! :P What do u think about your other beloved reds coming to Cyprus? ha ha ha!! Gotta go 2 that game as well as AEK vs Omonia – sorry guys, had to throw that in but hey, who knows maybe in two years it might be NFFC vs Anorthosis for a shot at the groups of the CL!! Nah, but can’t help dreaming….

    TXS Ayles, yep Garner was the other striker – as for the system – that’s easy – chuck in McClear & watch him clean up!! :lol: (soz, I’m in a good mood 2day for puns!!) Good pnt on the Hughes guy… Though I’m a broken record in saying go get the “Best” man. :lol:

    Matty – @ least u don’t need to get a flight over!!

    1 last thought, lets have no repeat of last years fiasco vs our neighbours. Such a shame it happened & let’s hope that this year is no repeat.

    Have a nice weekend all – Vas: e-mail me @ jkr_73@yahoo.co.uk. Na milisoume grapse Vas Red na xero oti ise esi. Sorry 4 the Greek guys but in the name of fighting spam I had to have a back up plan!! (like CC surely has!!)

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