Writer: Michael Briggs
Date:Saturday August 14 2010
Stadium of Light
14/8/10 - 15.00
The cliché of 'a game of two half`s' is dished about a lot these days, in the case of Sunderland vs. Birmingham its the perfect cliché to summarise the first home game of the season.
The game ended 2-2, a Darren Bent penalty and Stephen Carr own goal set up a great start to the campaign but Scott Dann and Liam Ridgewell spoiled the celebrations.
Sunderland will feel hard done by, it felt like a loss, but in all honesty, they blew it.
Newly established captain Lee Cattermole had a nightmare of a start to the season when he was harshly sent off, it just sums up the day for the Black Cats
With the new signings of Simon Mignolet, Nedum Onuoha, Titus Bramble, and Ahmed Elmohamady with hope rested on the new recruits, and they impressed
The first half was emphatic, electric and at times impressive, it took 30 seconds for the home side to cause a panic in the Brummy box, Bent breaking into the box but squirmed out before he pulled the trigger.
It continued, this time Jordan Henderson having a pop from distance resulting in a comfortable save from Foster.
Sunderland began to turn the screws in the offensive department, they huffed and puffed and finally got their chance.
Campbell bursting down the right of the 18-yard box and then cut down by Carr for controversial penalty in which Bent placed neatly to the left of the goal.
Towards the end of the first half, tackles were careless, sloppy and inconsistent and Cattermole added to that with his own clumsy challenge, resulting in his first yellow card.
Lee Bowyer almost scored a howler of an own goal when his sliced clearance was clawed away by Foster, a busy first half for the former Manchester United man.
Before the whistle it the game tuned sour, Cattermole clipping Bowyer late gave referee Anthony Taylor no hesitation but to show the England U-21 man his second yellow, much to the frustration of the home fans,
Come the second half started quite brightly for Sunderland, they appeared very defensive and shunned any attack Birmingham brought.
In the 56th minute, the Brummy defence was exposed an panicked when Henderson`s lovely floated ball missed Bent but met the head of Carr and lobbed Foster to make it 2-0, but it didn`t end there.
On come Paraguayan international Cristian Riveros and he nearly put the Black Cats out of sight with a lovely chip that drifted just inches wide of the post.
But when all looked lost for the Midlanders, Dann put Birmingham back into the game with his first ever Premier League goal as he rose above Onuoha to squirm a header through the legs of Mignolet.
It got worse, the pressure turned on to Sunderland and they didn`t look to have anything left to counter, instead they sat deep and it cost them ever so dearly.
A combination of Ridgewell and disarrayed Sunderland defenders, ensured the ball trickled agonisingly in with three minutes remaining after a goalmouth scramble ensued from Sebastian Larsson's expert free-kick.
However, Steve Bruce was pleased by the performance and believed the sending of was the turning point in the game.
He said "We played very well; it's difficult to play with ten men for half a game in the Premier League.
"The players stuck at it, worked hard and Birmingham couldn't break us down. They were only a threat at set pieces which was our undoing in the end.
"At times we were naive because of our youthfulness but I can't fault the players.
"Certainly if we'd have had 11 against 11 we would have won the game.'
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Date:Saturday August 14 2010
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