What a debut from Kimpioka!
Last night’s 3-1 victory over Carlisle proved to be an excellent one for Sunderland’s youth setup.
Academy graduates George Honeyman, Ethan Robson and Benji Kimpioka all found the net, with eighteen-year-olds Jack Diamond and Lee Connolly both making their Sunderland debuts from the bench.
The player who stood out for me, winning man of the match, was Swedish U19 International Kimpioka who was making his first start for the club. It took just two minutes for the striker to open his account for Sunderland, heading in an Aidan McGeady cross to the delight of the home crowd. The forward looked sharp throughout the game, showing bravery with his direct running as well as providing a physical presence as a lone striker.
I feel in Kimpioka we have a great attacking prospect who deserves to be handed more first team opportunities, especially with our lack of depth up front. Should Josh Maja get injured, it would be great to have another option on the table to compete with Wyke and Sinclair.
This tournament is a chance to win something
Now although the match felt like a pre-season friendly, and it was horrible seeing such an empty stadium, I do feel like Sunderland have a real opportunity with this tournament.
At the end of the day, a trophy is a trophy. Plus, who doesn’t love a trip to Wembley? Winning football matches is great for confidence within the squad because it helps Jack Ross create a stronger mentality. The team needs to become more ruthless by turning the draws into victories so that we can win the league, and games like last night help develop that mentality.
A goal and a strong performance from the likes of George Honeyman, who has come under scrutiny, can only help him kick on. For fringe players such as Ruiter, Robson and O’Nien, it gives them the chance to show why they should be in the team as we need healthy competition.
When McGeady is hot, he is on fire
I feel like playing McGeady is like rolling a dice. If you get 1-3 he is a very frustrating player to watch. If you get 4-6 he is a match winner and can dictate games by being a handful from the wing with his trickery.
A cup game against lesser opposition proved a brilliant opportunity for the Irishman to gain both fitness and form. His early assist for Kimpioka’s goal showed class, and throughout the match the winger danced past anyone who tried to get in his way. McGeady showed the sort of skill that made him the player he once was, frequently delivering crosses into dangerous areas.
I feel with the Irish winger, Jack Ross has a player above this level who simply needs to regain his confidence. Once this happens, I am sure we will see McGeady scoring goals and performing more consistently in the Red and White stripes.
Ozturk worries me!
In Adam Matthews, Alim Ozturk, Jack Baldwin and Reece James, Sunderland completed the 90 minutes with a senior defence that did not face much difficulty bar the poor goal we conceded.
Having said that one player who I am 100% convinced is not good enough is Alim Ozturk. Our first summer signing, the Turkish centre half has consistently made errors and, for me, last night I just did not feel comfortable with him at the back. He is very slow and highly anxious on the ball - two issues that are heavily exposed when we play our usual 3-5-2 formation which expects him to play out from the back.
I know we do have Baldwin, Loovens and Flanagan as other options, but I think in January a centre half should be signed to add both quality and depth. This could prove pivotal as for example should Baldwin, who has been our best defender this season suffer an injury, I would not trust Ozturk to deputise effectively.