Silly Cisse puts the first nail in the R's coffin
Today the R's travelled to Sunderland in great spirits after the superb comeback against Liverpool in midweek.
A depleted Lofty Heights gang hit the road hoping for a decent away day.
In my car today were Jess, Sam, Luke and PK and we had an early wake up call ahead of the four hour journey ahead of us. Unfortunately Lofty missed out due to family commitment, his first absence of the season. Jenson did not make the trip as he did not have enough company to take with him.
We left a bright and sunny Henley at 8.30 and made our way towards Sunderland. It didn't take long for Luke to do his usual passing out act and was asleep within twenty minutes and was soon followed by PK and then Sam as I continued to bop along to my music as Jess sat quietly enjoying a DVD in the back.
We reached the services just north of Nottingham nearly two hours into the journey and enjoyed a quick tea/coffee/hot chocolate and slowly woke up as we made the second half of the journey.
As we approached the final hour of the journey the gang chose to challenge ourselves to a geography test and see if Sam and Luke could locate football teams in the country correctly. A lot was learnt from this, Sam thought the sea was only abroad and that seasides are only down south....... Sam was very much in form on the entertainment front!
We arrived in Sunderland at 1.30 and made our way to the Colliers pub right by the ground. The pub was really friendly and we were talking to a few really friendly Sunderland supporters as we enjoyed a few cheap beers.
As the teams were announced the Sunderland fans were dismayed at the team selection as we saw their reaction to everything our optimism grew as we looked forward to kick off.
A Joey Barton tweet "All time low.........2 ways out. 1.Work hard 2.Worker harder" gave us all the clues that he was dropped.
With Barton being dropped it made way for Jamie Mackie to come in and take his place as the team that finished the game on Wednesday started the game today.
The game started slowly and it was clear that Sunderland were there for the taking if we had the heart and desire to succeed in this fixture today.
In a lacklustre first half the R's rarely troubled the Black Cats defence as we looked shaky.
Our weakest areas looked to be out wide with our full backs being good in an attacking sense but not defensively as they were massively exposed due to Mackie and Taarabt cutting inside and leaving their wide positions free and often a two on one situation for Young and Taiwo to deal with.
Anyway enough of my dribbling on, Sunderland took a deserved lead on 41 minutes when Bendtner headed home a McClean cross from the left hand side when he should've been closed down a lot quicker by Luke Young.
We went into half time feeling slightly deflated as the performance out there was not inspiring at all. After having seen that both Bolton and Wigan were winning, it was even more vital that we took the second half by the scruff of the neck.
We slowly looked as if we could force our way back into the game but a moment of madness saw the R's reduced to 10 men, once again! Cisse threw himself into a challenge two footed and rightly saw red for the tackle. That will mean that Cisse will now miss the next FOUR games! That is also Cisse's second red card in 5 games, our most important player just cannot seem to keep his head when we need him the most!
From this moment there was only going to be one winner.
In the 70th minute McClean made it 2-0 when his initial shot was blocked but his second shot deflected past a helpless Paddy Kenny and dribbled into the bottom corner.
Six minutes later Sessegnon made it three as some truly woeful defending allowed McClean to slide in Sessegnon who was completely unmarked and tapped home to really put the shine on Sunderland's victory.
On the 79th minute the travelling fans had a little to celebrate as Taiwo expertly curled in a free kick into the top right hand corner, consolation goal and that was all she wrote.
Rangers' were extremely poor today and really lacked any urgency and desire to chase and win the game. I hate to say it but it was a performance of a side that looked destined for relegation. Defensively we are awful and look incapable of keeping clean sheets, with the upcoming fixtures we need to keep clean sheets in order to stand a chance of getting anything out of the game. Now we have to contend with Cisse being out for another four games due to him being an idiot and making such a dangerous challenge at a time when we were looking to chase a game that we had every chance of taking something from.
Fair play to Sunderland however, despite missing key players like Wes Brown, Seb Larsson, Lee Cattermole and Kieron Richardson and then having to dealt with the blow of losing John O'Shea just 20minutes into the game, this makeshift Sunderland side really did make us look awful. In Martin O'Neill Sunderland have a fantastic manager that has the character to drive Sunderland to bigger and better things next season, personally I'd love to have a manager like him in and around our club, the enthusiasm just captures everyone.
On to Man of the Match. We had three nominations for this today. The first one goes to Sam, her entertainment levels were unparallel to anything else today and with her arguing with a fan in the stand over Cisse's indiscipline meant that Jointy and Perry had to be alert to Sam leaping into action after being told to shut up.
The second vote has gone to beer, beer before the game made everyone feel happy and everything seemed so good with it, when the football got in the way we hit reality with a fierce bump.
Our actual Man of the Match has been awarded to Shaun Derry. Derry was solid and looked like he wanted it the most out of all the R's players.
We are currently on the way home as PK is behind the wheel as we leave Leeds and nearly three hours from home.
Well will keep the faith going into next weeks home fixture with Arsenal as Lofty returns with another of his legendary reports.