FA Cup First Round, Saturday 6th November 2021
“We saw you cry on the telly” must be a chant Sunderland fans get every week, the fact is for true supporters watching the Netflix documentary, they’ll understand the emotion and pain of being a football fan – but just because you’ve been in the top flight and have a far bigger fan base for the division you’re now stuck in, doesn’t mean you have a right to win a game of football by name only.
It’s actually quite frustrating how the main stream media play on that history too, highlighting the fact Sunderland were knocked out by a side in a lower division – one league lower, it’s not like the dog and duck third XI netting a 90th minute winner against Liverpool. What they should be highlight is that the Stags played their socks off, and were deserved winners, marking Nigel Clough’s first year as boss with a 1-0 win.
It’s no secret that Clough’s men haven’t lived up to expectation this season and have been poor, but like last week, showed their quality and left the noisy travelling faithful beaming and proud – celebrating together as one with passion and desire at full time, which is all we want.
Rhys Oates’ goal within the opening six minutes typified the Stags’ performance, playing on the front foot, closing down everything Sunderland tried and putting them under pressure – credit must go to Clough for going with that more positive approach, when it would have been easier to sit back and soak things up, trying to steal one on the break.
At the back we were hardly troubled too, and let’s not forget neither central defenders were actually central defenders, Hawkins again brilliant and comfortable whilst O’Toole, making his first start, slotted in like he’d never been away from football – but the experience of both is what we’ve lacked and what’s needed to grind those results out.
Nathan Bishop between the sticks was first class again and deserved his second consecutive clean sheet, the more we can make it harder for teams to break us down, the easier it will become for our more creative players to shine and dominate at the other end.
Football is all about days like that, non-stop singing, passion from the players and a decent result miles from home – hopefully it will be a springboard for the league fixtures which come thick and fast this month, pushing us back up the table.
Up the Stags!
STAGS: Bishop, Hewitt, O’Toole, Hawkins, McLaughlin, Charsley (Forrester 90+4’), O. Clarke, Maris, Quinn, Lapslie (Sinclair 85’), Oates (Bowery 63’). UNUSED SUBS: Shelvey, Johnson, Burke, Ward, J. Clarke, Law.
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