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FA Carling Premiership, 27/11/99
One-nil to the Golden Boys...
By Martin Blanc

...Is clearly not enough. Ever. We've been 1-0 up on Leeds, Newcastle, and now the other Siders (Wear, Tyne, whatever). And it's been to zero avail.

We started like we'd all known we needed to - and finally got the rewards that Coventry and bad refereeing had denied us in previous games. Ah, bad refereeing...but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

And stunningly it was the defence that let us down. They seem to have taken the brunt of the confidence-loss, as they previously took the brunt of the soaring belief that we could hold out against anyone and all we needed were the strikers. So now we have the strikers, and a ruthless playmaker, and all they can do is stand around shaking their heads as we contrive one unlucky deflection (if every piece of bad luck we've had this season resulted in a goal against, we'd be in a far worse state), and follow it up with the most lacklustre marking of Summerbee junior and the rest since we got promoted. Yes, the entire Sunderland team played very well and, yes, our predictability was again painful to see, outguessed time and again...but we should have been able to stick with this bunch. It was almost as if we felt we'd taken a "shock" lead ourselves.

So just as we reach amicable status with Nigel Wray, the whole thing goes to shit on the pitch. There was a moment, when Micah Hyde was delivering the ball yet again to his opposite number, about ten minutes from the end, when I lost faith in staying up this season. Didn't lose faith in the boys, they're great boys. Nor GT, nor Nigel, though I couldn't see Elton where I'd picked him out at the start of the game.

So it was no surprise in our damned state to see Mr Rennie gob on us from a great height. Tragic to hear the racism that needs kicking out of everywhere, never mind football, being fed in a form that appeals to the idiots that follow even the sainted Horns. But there it was, like his skin dictated how stupid he'd been.

We looked like we were playing uphill against Newcastle. This time we were lobbing the ball for all we were worth off the edge of a picturesque cliff.