Date: 1st May 2017 at 2:49pm
Written by: Audenshaw Cherry

A good turn out from the away fans contrasted with that of the home fans. Clearly many from the North East knew that the writing was on the wall before the game started and, therefore, there were hundreds of empty seats visible from our extremely high positions in the away end. One enforced change meant that Lewis Cook started in the place of the injured Gosling.

After a long discussion about which team and, then, which player was going to kick off, the game started with Bournemouth on fire. They could well have taken the lead in the very first minute, when Daniels made it to the goal line only for his cut back to be nipped off the toes of Steve Cook, when he was in to score. The first ten minutes were dominated by the away side with wave after wave of passing around the outside of the box. It wasn`t sensational.

Sunderland, though strong in midfield, had one major tactic, a through ball to the diminutive Defoe who, on his day, can tear defences apart. Fortunately for Bournemouth this was not be his day. He did have a couple of chances, one of which, although he looked offside from 100 yards away, he hit past the post after Boruc had batted away a fierce shot from Borini; the other occurred when he tamely played the ball straight at the away keeper when he found himself on his own in the six yard box.

At the other end Bournemouth could have taken the lead with a touch of brilliance from King. Afobe received the ball on the left, shielded it from the defenders and then played a perfect pass to King, who still had a lot to do. He cut inside and curled the ball goal wards. With the keeper totally beaten the ball hit the bar and then the post before bouncing back into Pickford`s grateful arms.

With the away fans in good voice the game reached half time without further excitement.

Half time: Sunderland 0 AFCB 0

The second half was a pretty poor affair to be honest with only one or two events of note. Sunderland were in the ascendency for most of the half due in the main to the profligacy of the away team. Again Defoe was the main hope for Sunderland although Borini forced one great save from Boruc who dived to his right to force a drive away from the goal.

The game burst into life midway through the half when Lewis Cook was cynically felled by Borini. This led the coming together of the players from both teams, most of whom had been snoozing for most of the game. Subsequent pictures show Kone with his hands on the throats of both away centre backs. Surely he would be punished? But no. The inept referee, Atwell, booked the errant Borini and Arter, who appeared to be a peacemaker rather a protagonist. Kone walked away scot free. Strange.

As the game neared its boring end Sunderland, who badly needed a victory to maintain their Premier League status, pushed forward looking for that elusive goal. And then it came!!! But not for them. A flying headed clearance from Smith found Mousset, half way in the home team half. He controlled the ball, turned and ran at the defence. His pinpoint pass found the surging Fraser on the right. As he drove into the penalty area three defenders moved towards him. He crossed the ball between them and found the unmarked KING on the left of the six yard box and he made no mistake by slotting the ball past the despairing Pickford.

Joy unbounded in the sky, well at the back of the away stand.

Full Time: Sunderland 0 AFCB 1

Verdict: A win is a win and an away win is a bonus but do not run away with the thought that it was a great game. It wasn`t. It was probably the worst game I have seen this season, and I have now seen 12 of our away games including Millwall, Tottenham and Everton. There was far too much build up play and not enough goal mouth action. Very frustrating to watch. But WE ARE STAYING UP and, with a bit of luck could beat both our previous high points score and position and that is what really counts.

Boruc 9 Came to our rescue on a number of occasion with key saves. His performances towards the end of the season has truly deserved his extended contract

Smith 7 Steady without being sensational. His header did start the move that led to the goal.
Francis 7 He was getting stick from fans for giving the ball away but one toe in particular should receive praise for intercepting a pass to Defoe which would, surely, have led to a goal
Cook (S) 8 A solid performance yet again from Mr Dependable.
Daniels 7 His best moment came in the first minute, thereafter not much really came off for him, including a never ending dribble in the box, on his right foot, which came to nothing.

Fraser 7 Set up the goal but had the chance to run at the home defence more often but didn`t. Plan A appears to be ‘fall over in the box and hope`. Didn`t work!
Arter 7 Worked tirelessly again in the midfield although most of the work was around the box. I would like to see him more incisive with passing and movement going forward.
Cook (L) 7 Some nice touches but not sure I saw anything to raise my blood pressure. He gave the away too many times for my liking.
Pugh 7 One or two of his tricks fooled the defence but his partnership with Daniels was not at its best.

Afobe 7 Some good shielding and hold up play. One excellent pass to pick out King in the first half but he didn`t have his shooting boots on, again.
King 8 His price tag must be going up every game. One sublime moment in the first half and for the goal; he was in the right place at the right time although there was a suspicion of a scuff on the shot.

Stanislas Came on for the injured Afobe and seamlessly slotted into the centre of midfield.
Mousset Replaced Pugh and was well worth his place. Worked really hard both in defence, where he made a couple of excellent tackles, and up front. His pass to Fraser just before the goal was pinpoint.
Gradel Came on for Fraser after the goal and ran down the clock in the corner

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