STOKE CITY FC 0 SUNDERLAND 0
Sunderland came to The Brit for a point.That they left with one,from a largely uninspiring match, owed much to fine - and occasionally lucky - keeping by Mignolet.If my recollection is correct he saved at point blank range on four occasions,fine reflex saves,but in each case with the ball flying directly at him.Directed even a little to one side,and we would have been looking at at least two goals.
Stoke huffed and puffed throughout the afternoon,but for the most part failed to penetrate a dense Sunderland rearguard.Crouch was handled (and manhandled!)well by O Shea,Cuellar and Gardner so the supply of flickons was reduced,or lacked their usually accuracy.
For me KIghtly was,once again,our liveliest forward performer,a definite threat,but often outnumbered.Walters got about well,but for the most part was stifled.Indeed when he went off to be replaced by Etherington we began to look altogether more potent going forward.Ethers showed a greater inclination,than of late,to take his man on,with some success,despite being heavily marked.Very late on he ran at the Sunderland defence,before poking a ball through to Crouch.No question,just a little less pace on it,and goal would have resulted.As it was the ball eluded our striker.
Cameron,as an attacking full back is looking particularly at home.His crosses are now finding the right range,and on two occasions he worked his way into the Sunderland box,causing some panic.Adam continues to settle in.His passing skills and vision are evident in open play,his wicked freekicks will eventually bring greater rewards for the team.From one of Cameron's forays to the byline he received a cut back,leaving him eight yards out with the keeper to beat.He scuffed the shot,his frustration was evident.He'll score on another day.
The unsung heroes? Whitehead had a cracking game.Wherever an intervention was required,there he was to snuff out any threat.N'Zonzi continues to impress.His defends well,he wins the ball,he plays the simple but telling pass,and in the last quarter he was the driving force as we pushed on for a win.
Begovic had little to do,the back four were solid.Wilson looked to take a serious injury just after the break.Hopefully it will not be as bad as it looked.Replacement Wilkinson deputised well,although his only mistake let Sunderland in,but Fletcher could not capitalise on the opportunity.
Not,then,the win we had hoped for.Nine points from 9 games,just below midpoint in the table.And Lawro and his mate Hansen think we'll be fine.So that's alright then.