Tuesday, April 1

We are staying up!

Sunderland 1 West Ham 2

It’s off to the Lucky Pub, the location of which can’t be revealed under the terms of the Shadow Proclamation. Matt is booed by his own fans (Lisa and Fraser) for ordering a blackcurrant and soda, while the rest of us stick to Whitstable Bay organic ale and a Carlsberg for Fraser.

Strangely Sunderland have dropped Adam Johnson and are playing five at the back. We start well as Downing whips in a good cross across the face of Sunderland’s goal. As Noble waits to take a West Ham corner after nine minutes there’s a Sky close-up of Nolan and Bardsley with their hands all over each other. Nolan’s antics help distract Sunderland’s keeper Mannone as the corner comes in and Andy Carroll rises brilliantly above O’Shea to power home a header through the keeper’s hands. Andy runs off with his Dambusters celebration. The Makems have been undone by a Geordie, much to the delight of the commentary team.

We have a decent first half. Taylor fires wide of the post when found by Downing and Diame gets in a shot straight at the keeper. Sunderland should equalise when Cattermole fires straight at Adrian, and then puts the rebound wide. We also escape a penalty when Howard Webb ignores Nolan’s elbow making contact with the ball. But generally West Ham defend well with Tomkins and Reid looking solid, although McCartney at times appears shaky. The streetwise Nolan is more impressive away from home and Noble and Diame are helping to launch counter attacks with Carroll causing problems.

There’s not even anything to boo about at half-time. Johnson comes on for Sunderland and Armero replaces McCartney for the Irons. It gets better after 50 minutes as Carroll jumps with Brown and deflects the ball to Mo Diame, whose slightly deflected shot drifts into the far corner to make it two. We can hear Bubbles coming from the away fans.

In the 61st minute Downing skips past Alonso and is through one on one with the keeper. He looks certain to score put plays the ball the wrong side of the post with his left foot.

As Downing misses Michael The Whovian Who Is Also A Very Cultured Man With Many Other Interests arrives in his dinner jacket, having removed his bow tie so that he looks like an extra from Brideshead Revisited. “There’s no need to dress for the occasion,” quips Matt. Turns out he’s MCing an event at a nearby club for thespians.

Will Downing’s miss prove costly? It seems so as Johnson scores a well-taken goal to put Sunderland back in it after 65 minutes. Michael moans that he has the anti-Midas touch with football.

The crowd get behind the home side and Adrian has to field an effort from Wickham and Borini hits the side netting. Downing is now having one of those inconsistent nights where he keeps losing the ball and is bullied out of the game by defenders.

“They’re not going to score, their confidence has gone in front of goal,” says the Zen-like Fraser as the rest of us panic that it might be a case of 2-0 and we f***ed it up. And then Roger Johnson comes on and we get even more worried, though again the big man proves effective.

Sunderland’s keeper Mannone even comes up for a corner after 89 minutes but West Ham are professional and see the game out relatively comfortably, despite an injury to Winston Reid. Thirty seven points! This should guarantee survival after looking odds on for relegation at Christmas, which is a big achievement by Allardyce and his men. 

Matt heads off to work the night shift while the rest of us transfer to Michael’s Actors’ Club. We pretend to be resting thespians as Fraser channels the spirit of Adam Faith. Then someone comes up to him and says he enjoyed his version of Ol' Man River. There’s Bombardier, Black Sheep and Fursty Ferret at the cheap bar and just to round the evening off for Pete The Other Whovian there’s Richard Franklin, aka Captain Mike Yates from UNIT, at the bar having a chat with Michael. We are not worthy, indeed. Premiership survival and a glimpse of the last surviving UNIT officer from the Jon Pertwee era of Doctor Who all in one evening.

After more pints than is sensible we retreat home to dream of mid-table respectability. The Lucky Pub has worked its charms again.

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