Welcome back to the latest edition of the Sunderland weekly round-up. This past week saw the Black Cats’ unbeaten run continue as the promotion race in League One gathered pace.
Also in this week’s update includes: head coach Lee Johnson’s wish for the rest of the season, the upcoming return of Sunderland Ladies, and the passing of a football legend who briefly wore the red and white stripes of Sunderland.
Black Cats’ Unbeaten Run Continues as Promotion Race Hots Up
Bristol Rovers Defeated as Black Cats’ Unbeaten Run Goes On
Sunderland’s unbeaten run continued at Bristol Rovers making it 11 without defeat. There was also another clean sheet for goalkeeper Lee Burge as he continues to play behind a defence with just one fit central defender. In a game of few clear-cut chances, the Black Cats’ unbeaten run continued thanks to an Aiden O’Brien first-half winner.
The battle for promotion from League One to the Championship appears more likely to be a three-horse race as the weeks go by. Hull City, Peterborough United, and Sunderland look the most likely to be battling it out for the top two places which would guarantee automatic promotion.
Black Cats’ Unbeaten Run Continues but Lee Johnson Eyes Improvement
Following Saturday’s victory at Bristol Rovers which extended the Black Cats’ unbeaten run to 11 games, Head Coach Lee Johnson hailed his side for their commitment but want to see some improvements in the coming games. Speaking after the game, Johnson said: “It’s hard to summarise because I was as delighted as I was frustrated.”
“I thought that they did really well in the first half, they used the slope and forced us to go direct which I didn’t really like. We needed to show more ice in the head.
“We had the fire in the belly but not enough control and understanding of where the next pass needed to go. I’m pleased, the results are the most important thing at this stage of the season and we just have to keep doing our bit.
“There’s 30 points to play for and we’ve just got to focus on that. We’ve put ourselves in a great position. The first thing is to secure the play-off place with a points tally and go from there.
Denver Hume who has been missing for the entirety of 2021, stepped up his recovery by playing 75 minutes for Sunderland’s Under 23 side as they beat Burnley 3-0. The left-back also played in a behind closed doors friendly against Gateshead last week as he looks to make his way back into first-team contention.
Elsewhere, defenders Bailey Wright and Tom Flanagan are expected to be out for a further one to two weeks as is winger Jordan Jones. Central defender Jordan Willis is unlikely to feature again this season.
Youngster Heads off on Loan
Sweden U21 international Benji Kimpioka has joined Torquay United on loan until the end of the season. The forward has only recently returned to action following injury. Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman said: “Benji has missed a significant period of the season and we are delighted that he’s now returned to full fitness. We are keen for him to obtain more games in a competitive setting and based upon the point we are at in the season, this is a great opportunity for him.”
Ladies Set to Return to Action
Sunderland Ladies are set to return to action on April 4. The FA recently announced that the Women’s National League would be declared null and void; however, the Women’s Vitality Cup will still go ahead. The lady Black Cats will face Sheffield FC at the Academy of Light in the second round of the competition. It is three months since the ladies last played and they will return to training just five days before the cup clash with Sheffield.
Last week brought the sad news that Frank Worthington, one of football’s true entertainers had passed away. Worthington played for many clubs during his career and scored some classic goals. Although he only started 19 games for Sunderland and was a veteran striker upon arriving, he helped guide the club from the bottom of the table to safety in the 1982-83 season. Despite only a short time at the club, Worthington is fondly remembered by the club and fans.