Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Bite to Go with Black Cats' Bark

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Bite to Go with Black Cats' Bark

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

SUNDERLAND are no longer rolling over to have their bellies trickled on their travels, but they have still not discovered the bite to go with their bark after another draw against ten man Blackburn.

The home side were forced to play the entire second half with a man less after Christopher Samba was sent off for hauling back Danny Welbeck on the edge of the area, yet despite plenty of pressure and enough clear cut openings they failed to make any of it count.

For all of the huge strides made under Steve Bruce the progress away from home can be measured in tip toes. Despite drawing at Wigan Athletic with ten men after Lee Cattermole's first-half sending off, and taking a rare point at Anfield - not that spectacular this season perhaps given their league position, the Wearsiders were dreadful in a defeat at West Brom back in August.

In all, they have won just two away games in the Premier League under Bruce and one of those, against Bolton, came in his first game in charge. Spectacular home form will keep the supporters satisfied, but it is the ability to squeeze points when the pressure is on away from home which leads to spectacular league positions.

Bruce has banged this particular drum so hard he must have put a hole in it, but this was a massive test of their resolve. A trip to Blackburn to face a Sam Allardyce''s side is never pleasant at the best of times, least of all on a wet and chilly autumnal evening in Lancashire.

These are precisely the sort of games Sunderland have let themselves down in under Bruce, and while this was another positive result in the overall context of a campaign, it was also one they left knowing they should have won.

The Black Cats looked the better side throughout, but while you can always predict what you are going to get from Blackburn, that does not make them any less of a threat from set-pieces.

Simon Mignolet had to readjust his feet quickly to tip over an over hit free-kick from Morten Gamst Pedersen, while a quick succession of corners put the visiting defence under some early pressure. With Titus Bramble particularly prominent in the back four, the Wearsiders held firm and they should have taken the lead after 25 minutes when Darren Bent, having done the hardwork to get in a one on one situation with Paul Robinson, shot straight at the Rovers goalkeeper.

Sunderland were also guilty of some poor decision making at key moments, Ahmed Elmohamady reminding us of his lack of experience when he elected to shoot from 25 yards with several players in red and white stripes waiting for a pass in a better position.

The young Egypt international also wasted a wonderful three on two break. Jordan Henderson began it by sprinting clear of his own error with the ball. He fed Elmohamdy in plenty of space ahead of him on the right, but his through ball to Bent, who had drifted off the shoulder of the last defender, was poor and failed to find the England international. …

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