Ruiter unlikely to stake claim as first-choice keeper
Despite the fact that Jon McLaughlin has been in fine form, Robbin Ruiter will have seen this evening’s game as a chance to demonstrate his worth to Jack Ross as he perhaps looks for a new deal on Wearside, or a move elsewhere.
It would have taken a magnificent performance for Ruiter to have ousted McLaughlin from between the sticks; however, after the victory over Morecambe, it’s clear to see that Ruiter will remain as Jack Ross’ second choice.
Ruiter wasn’t horrific by any means, but he did struggle aerially at times, and also spilled what should have been a couple of rudimentary saves. It’s clear to see how valuable McLaughlin is to our side, and moving forward he will be vital for any success we find in the league or indeed in the cup.
Youngsters were solid
When the starting lineup was released, it was equal parts surprising and pleasing to see so many of the club’s youngsters given a chance in the starting XI. Jack Bainbridge, Jake Hackett, Jack Diamond, and Jordan Hunter were all handed starting roles, while the bench was stacked with other academy products.
Jordan Hunter was impressive for the opening twenty, but faded after - perhaps struggling with the pace and physicality of the match.
Jack Diamond shows glimpses of absolute quality, but you get the sense he is still a very raw talent. He was unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions, but should have done better when played in on goal.
Jake Hackett was solid in the middle of the park. He recycled the ball well, pressured effectively and occasionally broke into the opposition half where he forced a good save out of Morecambe’s keeper. He was impressive, though clearly needs more time to develop.
Jack Bainbridge, in my opinion, was excellent. He was able to mix it up physically with a very direct and unforgiving Morecambe, and despite a slow start he grew into the game as a truly impressive ball-playing defender. He definitely deserves more time in the first-team when cup games present an opportunity.
A rather dull game, but Maja does it again
There’s a debate among Sunderland fans as to whether Josh Maja or Jerome Sinclair should lead Sunderland’s line (keep your eyes peeled for an article on the site this week). One side of the divide suggest Sinclair is an all-round more effective player who gets the most out of his fellow teammates; the other side simply point to Maja’s goal-scoring record.
Last night Maja showed supporters again why he is such an important part of this side. With what was realistically his only clear chance on goal, Maja controlled a great ball in from Oviedo in the 91st minute before placing the ball into the bottom left corner. Game over.
If Ross can find a way to effectively play both forwards in a system that utilises their individual talents, we could well have the makings of a great partnership.
Man knows where the net is pic.twitter.com/p0VoqMn52t— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) November 13, 2018
Boring game, but necessary for Ross & his squad
Despite the fact last night’s game was a pretty tedious affair, the game was a necessity for Ross and his squad.
Multiple players needed an opportunity to get valuable competitive minutes under their belt, and although the match provided little in the way of fireworks, it did allow Ross to analyse several players who could well be calling for a starting spot in weeks to come.
Ozturk, Loovens, and Oviedo all needed minutes to ensure they are all able to slot into Ross’ starting side if needed. This weekend we will be without Tom Flanagan, and giving 90 minutes to Ozturk, Loovens and even Jack Bainbridge was a useful exercise as one will partner Jack Baldwin in a few days’ time.
Max Power and Luke O’Nien also needed time on the pitch in order to stake their claim for a starting spot. With Lee Cattermole struggling for fitness, at least one spot could potentially be open in the middle of the park. Will Ross play Honeyman in his deep-lying midfield role against Wycombe? Or will one of the two aforementioned players be drafted in to offer a more physical presence against a fairly direct side?
Up front, Josh Maja needed a confidence boost after a recurring ankle injury has hindered the striker’s form in recent weeks. Admittedly, Josh struggled to efficiently link play, but he did show his knack for finding the back of the net.
Tactically, Sunderland referred to their fluid 3-5-1-1 formation last night, again a useful exercise for Ross in order to experiment with combinations and analyse systems and styles for various opponents.
How good are our fans?!
Last night 1,500 mental Mackems made the trip to Morecambe. On a cold, dark Tuesday evening where our side played a dull game in an iffy competition, we managed to outnumber the Morecambe crowd by a ratio of almost 2:1.
Nobody demands that this club must win anything. As fans, we have no sense of self-entitlement. However, we do turn out in numbers, both home and away, in order to give our side, our local team, those that represent our beloved city, the support they need to win.
There’s a sense of poetic justice that results are seemingly changing on the pitch. For so long were we left dejected by all things Sunderland, yet now things are on the up.
Last night was a perfect metaphor for our mini-renaissance - a packed away end cheering on a side giving everything to win. No egos, no hasbeens, just a bunch of Lads getting stuck in for the badge, coming away with a win.