By Jon Harries
If Carlsberg did Saturday’s then last weekend would have been near on perfect. Losing Regan Poole just prior to the kick-off wasn’t the best start, and I’m sure I speak on behalf of the fanbase when I wish him well at Lincoln City. Come 3pm though all eyes were fixed on the fixture at the Meccano Stadium versus Opponent and in truth it was a comfortable afternoon for the “Real” Dons. Goals for the two former Fulham youth team players Matt O’Riley and Matty Sorinola in the second half were enough for victory and also end the reign of the Opposition manager and send the Opposition fans to think what next, although the slap in the face from the Chelsea Ladies manager in midweek must have added to their woes………anyway, It was definitely a confidence boosting win for Martin’s men going into another busy period of fixtures.
Our next opponents Sunderland played host to Gillingham on Saturday playing out an eventful 2 – 2 draw. Taking the lead through Aiden McGeady the Black Cats were pegged back by Alex Macdonald. They then retook the lead after Grant Leadbitter followed up after having his penalty saved by Jack Bonham. Gillingham though for the second time in two seasons came away from the Stadium of Light with a point when Jordan Graham calmly finished in added on time. The point was better for Gillingham than Sunderland in truth and it’s yet another game where they will feel its two points dropped from a winning situation.
Under Lee Johnson Sunderland are starting to steady the ship after parting company with Phil Parkinson. Fans were getting frustrated with defensive performances and given the attacking talent in the team it’s easy to see why.
Lee Burge and Remi Matthews are goalkeepers that are good, but both have a mistake in them, Jordan Willis and former Don Tom Flanagan are solid CBs and new loanee Jake Voskins from Southampton will be hoping to cement the troublesome LB role for the rest of the season. Grant Leadbitter is the conductor in midfield with the best name in lower league football Max Power creating chances with his intelligent passing. Luke O’Nien is “Mr Versatile” who has played several positions in the squad and Carl Winchester, formerly of Forest Green Rovers will be looking to settle into a very talented midfield. Up front the enigmatic Chris Maguire can wind up opposition just by being on the pitch, Jack Diamond is getting an opportunity to impress in the squad and Charlie Wyke has 12 goals in 22 starts in the league. He has hit a purple patch recently and is getting back to his ruthless best under Johnson. Lynden Gooch broke the deadlock in their last trip to Stadium MK with a wonder strike in the final minutes of the game.
Aiden McGeady is the star man and a step above League 1, be in no doubt he can make it look easy and Lee Johnson has realised that Sunderland are stronger with him after Parkinson froze him out during his tenure. Able to beat a defender and turn them inside out, much depends on the creativity of the Republic of Ireland international, with two goals and recently assists. Any hope of automatic promotion, which is still possible if they can get a string of results together in such a competitive league may hinge on the form of McGeady. Ethan Laird will have to be on top of his game to nullify the threat and is possibly the biggest test of his career to date.
Predicted Line Up
Laird – O’Hora – Darling – Lewington – Harvie
Thompson – O’Riley – Fraser
Mason – Jerome
This game will be closer than midweek, both on the pitch and the bench as the new recruits come back into the fold after being cup tied. To win this all players will have to be on their top form and maximum concentration. So many key battles will have to be won individually and collectively. At the Stadium of Light we showed on our day we can compete picking up our first away win in over a year in League One. The Black Cats have the fourth best away form in the league, so this won’t be easy. Saying all that though I’m predicting a 2-1 win even without the services of Grigg on Saturday. Now our full attention is on the league it’s time to step it up, be more ruthless and less naïve.
I’d just like to say on behalf of the fanbase my thoughts go out to Captain Sir Tom Moore and his family at this time. At a very uncertain time he brought the whole of the country together and shows no matter your age anything is possible… RIP.
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