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Tyne and Weary

So that’s what only conceding one goal feels like…

Rare(ish) midweek update on SW19 – maybe I should do more of them? – but as you know, we went up to Sunderland and weren’t gubbed 4-0.

I was out of the loop totally, only getting score updates, but it sounds like we were let down by our finishing this time.

Caveats aplenty for obvious reasons (see below), but I think just about every single one of us would have accepted a point beforehand.

Which is what we got. And if Sunderland forums were anything to go by, us losing it late wasn’t going to happen this time.

Maybe Charlton was the last straw? I know that our defensive weakness was a sore spot among those in the camp, and one wonders if we had to re-prove ourselves last night.

Because after all, the focus is now on letting things slip far too easily, and not on what we’ve been getting right this season.

I mention this with the irony that we couldn’t keep the lead *****again***** but this time the angst is minimal.

Maybe it’s because this sort of thing is normal, as opposed to what we’ve been doing recently?

GH sounded happy after the game anyway, and any pressure on him has been lifted a bit. It’s not like he’ll be going anywhere soon, but the buck ultimately stops with him.

Piggy was on the scoresheet again, albeit from the spot, and we’ll have a battle to keep him in a Dons shirt by February.

It’s very tempting to cash in on him, but at the same time – we’ve not got many other players who can find the net.

I think he’s out of contract at the end of this season, so we’ll either have to succumb to a decent offer next month, give him a new and vastly improved deal, or bite the bullet and let him go gratis in the summer.

And hope somebody else starts finding the net with wanton abandon.

It has to be said, with however many games we’ve played recently, and with Xmas to come, we needed that point last night.

Making Sunderland the proverbial free hit, and focusing on Crewe this Saturday is all very well in theory.

In practice though, you have to focus on winning the next game – you can’t pick and choose which games to win unless you’re exceptionally good.

Crewe have won three out of the last four, by the way. Just thought I’d mention it.

And when you’re rapidly losing form and leaking more than a government department, you take whatever advantages you can get – even if it’s a bit morally dubious.

As you know, the big story from last night wasn’t the result, but eight Sunderland players missing because of the lurgy.

Now. I could be a bit flippant here and suggest the Mackems are still able to put out a decent enough team in a League One fixture regardless.

And that they still had a £4m striker in Will Grigg, who now seems to be smouldering rather than being on fire.

But I won’t.

Sunderland fans were unsurprisingly pissed off at the whole thing, and their manager wasn’t much happier either.

Should last night have gone ahead? Probably not, and I don’t think anyone would have complained if it got called off even an hour before.

But it was played due to Sunderland’s fear of sanctions by the EFL. Which considering what conditions we’re in is pretty ludicrous.

I’m not sure why the Mackems didn’t axe it anyway, and challenge the authorities to punish them.

The worse that could have happened was that we got awarded the game and they get a fine they can afford.

Plus lots of moral high ground to stand on.

I can only think it was because we were up there already – a 600 mile round trip – and the ability to proceed with the game was already there.

GH said we didn’t know about the issues when we were going up, and the whole rumour mill wasn’t actually confirmed until about two hours or less before kickoff.

Could somebody on Wearside have phoned us to ask whether we could postpone it? Or would that have been seen as pressurising us to call it off?

Playing last night doesn’t make sense, until you start thinking the way an EFL blazer clutching his rulebook does.

The other issue is whether we get Rona-ed up for the second time in a month or so.

It would be something if we have our own second wave of infections throughout the club, and I guess we’ll be looking at things very closely again for the next couple of weeks.

To be honest, I’m more surprised that this kind of thing hasn’t happened more often, and football generally has coped well with all the restrictions.

That said, given the way we’ve defended in the last few games, we’ve probably been playing with CV19 already…

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