Washout of a day does not help Cats’ fixtures pile up
Accrington Stanley 1 Sunderland 1 (Abandoned 76mins)
IT was hard to take too much from a crazy game in even crazier conditions, particularly as Sunderland’s clash at Accrington Stanley was abandoned after 73 minutes because the waterlogged pitch it was played on had become dangerous.
Even before the visitors arrived at the ground it was clear the match was touch and go, and although referee Oliver Langford decided to kick it off, it was impossible to finish it.
Drawing conclusions on how individuals played was very hard indeed because the conditions made the game such a lottery, but there were still talking points to be had. Sensible decision by the referee
With 2,604 Sunderland fans travelling to Accrington and their team’s fixture list piling up as they press ahead with a League One title challenge and two cup runs, an abandon- ment was not really ll what h the h visitors wanted.
That said, Jack Ross’ primary concern was the 90 minutes ahead, rather than what the fixture will hold in early 2019, when this game will probably now have to be replayed, and at fulltime he admitted he had his reservations about whether the game should have started. He certainly had no complaints at the decision to end it early.
Heavy rain fell during the warm-up, but it had eased by kick-off. There were then a few downpours during the game, the last of which was terminal.
The referee looked at the pitch three times before giving the goahead, and for more than an hour it was the right decision but a huge downpour either side of Accrington Stanley’s equaliser not only made the game farcical, but downright dangerous.
The bounce of the ball was unpredictable throughout, but by the end it had stopped moving at all, Aiden WHENEVER a match gets called off, there are always questions to be asked: Should the referee have called a halt, should it have even started? All afternoon, Oliver Langford probably made the right calls on a difficult day for those on the pitch, not to mention in the uncovered away end.
Even before Sunderland arrived at the ground, there were question marks about whether the game should go ahead.
There were ugly marks down the main-stand wing of the pitch, particularly towards the end where the McGeady running past it at one point late on. It could have been worse
When Sunderland had a game abandoned against Fulham in 2006, Rory Delap broke his nose before it got to that stage but all things considered, they appear to have got away reasonably lightly from their trip to the Crown Ground. Adam Matthews, playing in the most treacherous part of the pitch in the first half, was the only injury the Wearsiders picked up, limping off gingerly after 18 minutes. home fans were standing. There was always a worry about how much rain that part of the pitch could take, and it was already taking plenty.
The forecast was for it to be heavy up until the 3pm kick-off, and it was just about right.
On the flip side, the narrative of this part of Sunderland’s season has been about fixture congestion. They could have done without the replay that will now almost certainly have to be played some time in 2019. In November they made the decision not to postpone an international His was an impact injury, which will be assessed back on Wearside.
Although there were obviously quite a few tasty tackles flying in and at times things got a bit heated, the referee was sensible about it, and kept his red card in his pocket.
Splashing around such a heavy pitch is bound to take something out of the legs, though, and Tuesday’s FA Cup replay will be hard work for those who keep their places in the side for it. Throwback football
When there was some football to break game if the chance presented itself (in the end it did not) for fear of the traffic jam mounting as they plough on in the FA Cup and Football League Trophy.
Then there were the 2,604 visiting fans, making up almost half the Crown Ground’s record attendance. Having got all the way to Accrington – by no means the longest journey they will make this season but still a lot more than a hop, a skip and a jump away – they could do without having to make the journey again on a winter’s Tuesday night with all that means for getting actually ll watch, h it was real l throwback h b k stuff.
You do not tend to see many games like this in these days of manicured pitches. The conditions made the game a bit of a lottery, with the bounce unpredictable and at times non-existent, control and passing very difficult. Often the ball pinged about between two sets of players unable to get hold of it.
Neither side complained about it – after all, this is League One, where players just get on with it – which was great to see.
Inevitably there were plenty of moments of high farce and few of high quality. The two goals – Sunderland’s as Chris Maguire charged down Connor Ripley’s attempted clearance from Sam Finley’s ill-advised backpass, and a scrambled equaliser by Connor Hall – were more or less what you would expect in those conditions. Chris Maguire enjoys himself
On days like Saturday, you wonder who will be licking their lips at the thought of slide-tackling weather, and time off work. They were told at the abandonment to hang onto their tickets, but they are probably mush by now.
After three inspections, Langford decided the game should go ahead, barring anything too torrential in the final hour before kick-off. The ball actually rolled reasonably well in the warm-up, but the rain was still lashing down then, and once the game got underway, there were puddles being kicked up left, right and centre.
It was hard to play good football. At times, particularly when the ball was near Adam Matthews in difficult part of the pitch, pinged off shins and plugge quagmire. It was no great sh Sunderland’s right-back was victim, limping off after 18 mi
They were not conditions t an exhibition of the beautif but nor were they dangerou League One, where players d wrapped up in cotton wool might be higher up the league
By half-time it was 0-0, and had been on and off. Some lo they were enjoying it, others would probably rather be at h
Chris Maguire of Sunderland scores as he closes down keeper Connor Ripley