Punchless Blues blown off course

THE importance of having someone capable of finishing a good chance created from width was underlined as Sunderland reaped the benefits of their manager's wheeling and dealing.

By Derek Davis

THE importance of having someone capable of finishing a good chance created from width was underlined as Sunderland reaped the benefits of their manager's wheeling and dealing.

While Jim Magilton captured a much-needed right-back this week, his hunt for a striker has so far come to nothing and that needs to be rectified.

Ipswich have managed just eight goals in 10 games and have not found the net in four of their past six matches.


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Compare that with Chris Iwelumo at Colchester, for example. He alone has netted nine goals in 10 games, so the importance of Town getting in a goalscorer has never been more obvious.

David Connolly's winning goal owed as much to Roy Keane's ability in the transfer market as it did to woeful individual defending and sharp finishing.

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When Carlos Edwards and Anthony Stokes, both bought in this transfer window, combined to expose Dan Harding at left-back, it proved the difference between two otherwise evenly-matched sides.

Stokes, a £2.7m buy from Arsenal, slid the ball across the face of goal despite Jason De Vos' best effort to intercept, and Connolly gleefully accept the five-yard tap-in. But, apart from the minutes leading up to the goal and a flourish at the end, Sunderland were quite often second best to an Ipswich side that played some decent football in truly awful conditions.

As the strong winds blew in from the North Sea, any ball above waist-high went astray. But, sadly for Town, it seemed virtually every ball they played in the final third was also wayward.

The wind of change at the Stadium of Light has already provided tangible rewards, at Ipswich they are heading for the doldrums of mid-table at best and all because they get blown off course in the final third.

For all their possession and neat play, the Blues failure to provide enough decent chances for lone striker Alan Lee blunted their hopes of getting back into the match.

Even when opportunities presented themselves, the Blues could not take advantage.

A Sylvain Legwinski header from a Gary Roberts corner was cleared off the line. Substitute Danny Haynes also had a shot cleared inches from a post by Jonny Evans, with Lee trying to force it in.

Lee had a good claim for a penalty rejected when he nicked the ball past keeper Darren Ward and took a tumble but the referee was not interested.

Nor was Lee Mason inclined to point to the spot by the Black Cats' continuous appeals and waved away five claims of varying degrees of validity.

Matt Richards had shots in quick succession blocked and David Wright, on his debut, mesmerised everyone with a 40-yard run but his 30-yard shot was wide of the mark.

Richard Naylor nodded wide from a Williams' corner and, in the dying moments, hit an angled drive wide of the far post.

After their early flurry, Sunderland made few inroads and even when Stokes and Connolly combined again, Price was equal to the shot.

But, for all Town's good approach play, they could not breech the Mackems' backline, where Evans, in particular, was magnificent and it is easy to see why Magilton wanted to take him on loan from Manchester United.

Substitute Stephen Elliott almost scored within seconds of replacing Stokes after Edwards set him free but he shot wide.

It would have been very harsh on Town, who deserved something but again will bemoan the inability to find the net - and the sooner Lee is given experienced support the better.

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