Washout of a day does not help Cats’ fix­tures pile up

Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley 1 Sun­der­land 1 (Aban­doned 76mins)

Sunday Sun - - Football - Stu­art Rayner Foot­ball writer stu­[email protected]­me­dia.co.uk

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

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