Ross backs the referee over decision to abandon game
who would rather be in a warm dressing room.
It was no surprise to see Maguire launch himself into a marathon slide early on, or that he ended up scoring Sunderland’s only goal.
There was little skill in it, just heart, but the reason Maguire is so popular with the Black Cats’ supporters is because he provides a bit of both.
The chip he landed on the Accrington crossbar after being picked out – just – by McGeady was extremely deft.
If Maguire seemed to be enjoying himself – and Max Power had a big grin on his face too – Josh Maja did not.
The teenager largely played from the right of a 4-3-3 which had Maguire down the middle and as is often the case when he fails to score, he had little impact.
The nearest he came to a chance was when he chested Maguire’s chipped cross in the seventh minute, but on-loan Middlesbrough goalkeeper Ripley was able to come off his line and smother.
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Sunderland have dropped out of the automatic promotion places and are now seven points behind leaders Portsmouth.
They have a game in hand on Pompey, and two to make up the one-point difference to Luton Town, who also had a 2-0 home win on Saturday.
It is no cause for panic, and Ross tries to look at the league table in terms of points-per-game rather than just points, but Kenny Jackett’s league leaders will now be out of reach when the sides meet at Fratton Park the Saturday before Christmas.
The gap could even be double-figures by the weekend, with Pompey catching up their game at home to Charlton Athletic while Sunderland have an FA Cup replay to get through.
There are valid reasons for it, but the Black Cats have only picked up one League One victory since November 3. The momentum they had is being stuck in the mud.
The tackles inevitably flew in and there were a few flashpoints – a 48thminute melee which saw Chris Maguire, Ross Sykes and Sean McConville in the book for the fall-out after Sykes went through the back of Aiden McGeady, an unnecessary shove on George Honeyman after he too had been fouled from behind.
Langford was measured in how he dealt with it, flashing the odd yellow card but not going overboard, respectful of the difficulties the players were having.
It was only once the game got to 1-1 that things started to get farcical.
Maguire gave the Black Cats the lead, charging down a clearance, but Accrington’s Connor Hall bundling home an equaliser six minutes later made the equation a little simpler.
The heaviest rain of the day had just started, and it kept going for quite a long time after it.
The puddles got bigger, the tackles drew sharper intakes of breath. The players were still running but the ball was not. The potential for a mistimed - or even a timed - tackle to put someone in hospital was obvious, and Langford was not blind to it.
He played on after a chat with both dugouts, but not for long. Hall’s equaliser meant neither side felt robbed by the decision to call the whole thing off. The two managers were supportive of the decision afterwards. That said a lot really. Langford was right to give the game every chance, but ultimately nobody could argue that it was time to cut their losses and head home. Accrington will have to brace itself for another Sunderland invasion.
Football might not have been the winner, but a few Lancashire landlords did well out of their weekend. JACK Ross says the referee made the right call by abandoning Sunderland’s game at Accrington Stanley - insisting heavy rain risked turning the match into a ‘farce’.
Heavy rain had put the game in doubt even before kick-off, but the weather eased just in time to get the game under way.
But with the scores level at 1-1 midway through the second half, the heavy rain returned and referee Oliver Langford abandoned the game in the 73rd minute on safety grounds.
The sides must now return to the Crown Ground to replay the fixture, but no date has yet been set.
“When the game is level it makes it an easier decision, not just for the match official but for everyone,” said Ross.
“I had my concerns about the game starting and the conditions have worsened to the extent that you can see now – you can’t play on that, and there does become an element of farce about it, so I have no issues with the decision.
“Because of how the pitch was prior to kick-off, you knew that any sustained heavy rain was going to sit on top of it - particularly on this stand side.
Chris Maguire had given Sunderland the lead just after the hour before sub Connor Hall levelled 20 minutes from time.
But the pitch had become unplayable in some areas, with Aiden McGeady and Maguire among those who struggled.
Ross said: “We weren’t begging for it to be called off because we were well in the game, but you could see - I think Aiden had one in the corner where he said the pitch tackled him, because suddenly the ball was 10 yards behind him.
“Even Chris’ chance, in different conditions I think he probably scores because the ball reaches him sooner.”
Langford had checked on the conditions three times before allowing the game to start, with Ross adding: “The referee spoke to myself and Jon when I arrived at the stadium and he had some concerns about it, but what I would say to Accrington’s credit is that the pitch is actually good and in the main it played OK in the con- ditions. But it was just this stand side that was my concern during the warm-up because I thought it wasn’t ideal, and the played stayed off it which was good.
“I thought the match official did as much as he could in difficult circumstances, because it was not easy for him.”
With only around 17 minutes remaining, some wondered if it would have been worth playing on but Ross did not want to take any risks.
“Within that 10-15 minute spell, anything can happen,” he said.
“We were probably facing the worst of the weather in terms of the wind and the rain in that period.
“It’s OK to say we could have seen it through, but if that costs us points that can affect us doing what we want to do at the end of the season then I am happy with the decision.”
He was also honest enough to admit that he might have felt differently had his side still been in front.
He said: “It’s very easy for me to stand here and say no, I would be as easy to win round to calling the game off if we had been winning.
“But there would still have been that element of farce about it, you can concede two goals because of mistakes.
“Even the equaliser, Jack Baldwin goes to make a clearance on the half-volley and the ball pretty much dies underneath his foot.
“Other things happened after that, but that was one part of it.”
Defender Adam Matthews went off injured inside the opening 20 minutes but Ross said the conditions were not to blame.
He said: “It’s just an impact injury.
“He is sore at the moment but we will assess it tomorrow and see how he is, given that we have another game on Tuesday and then an important league game next weekend. “I don’t think it had anything to do with the conditions.
“The game was competitive but I don’t think any players on either team were reckless in any way.”
Chris Maguire of Sunderland celebrates after he scores