Ross backs the ref­eree over de­ci­sion to aban­don game

Sunday Sun - - Football -

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.

Maja was sub­sti­tuted just af­ter an hour, and Sun­der­land scored a minute af­ter­wards. the most the ball ed in the hock that s the first in­utes. to put on ful game, us. This is do not get like they e lad­der. d the rain ooked like like they home. Mind the gap

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

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