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Darlington 1-0 Sunderland: Brief Match Report & Player Ratings LIVE from Blackwell Meadows

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Sunderland kicked off pre-season with the almost-annual trip down the A19 to face non-league Darlington at Blackwell Meadows with a loss. Here’s how the Lads rated.

Sunderland facing Darlington at Blackwell Meadows.
James Nickels

Darlington 1-0 Sunderland

A youthful and new Sunderland side were given a very stern run out by local non-league outfit Darlington.

Alim Öztürk struggled all evening and eventually went off early for Don Love having suffered an injury. He almost gave a penalty away and did give the ball away on many more occasions - one of which was intercepted by Darlo before their attacker raced in on goal and swept the ball beyond Ruiter's left-hand side.

The Lads started poor but grew into the game as time went on. We dominated late in first half through Maguire and Cattermolr - who dictated from deep. Then, we started the second half much faster and played some nice interchangeable triangles.

Jack Ross pondering over his side's 1-0 loss away to Darlington in pre-season.
Sunderland AFC

A raft of eight substitutes at once disrupted the flow of the game but we played some good stuff once we got going. Josh Maja was closest to scoring with one great, close chance going wide and then hit the bar from a corner. Mind, it is worrying how easily our defence was bullied and torn apart on the counter.

We are evidently sorely lacking in physicality and goalscoring instinct. League One is essentially just pace and strength - and we need both in abundance.

But don't go worrying yet. It's only pre-season. One absolute knacker booed at the end - do one. Bet he tweets Stewart Donald daily anarl.

But it was a good turnout and we know exactly what we need to improve. Darlington looked like a side a fortnight ahead in their preparations too.


Player Ratings

Robbin Ruiter - 6

Not much to do, but did most of what he had to handle well. Another goal on his weaker left-hand side, though.

Adam Matthews - 5

Provided a good outlet on the right and looked sharp. One poor shot was wasted high and wide in the first half. Switched to centre back at half-time. Less effective in the middle.

Alim Öztürk - 3

Poor. Gave the ball away for their goal and nearly gave a pen away. Bullied by Darlo’s fat midget up top and off early for Don Love.

Tom Flanagan - 5

Didn’t really have to do much. Alright on the ball. Looks a bit gangly. Won a clever header from a corner.

Reece James - 6

Solid start, caused their right back a lot of problems and linked up excellently with Maguire and Ethan Robson.

Reece James impressed on his Sunderland debut.
Sunderland AFC

Lee Cattermole - 6

Defended well and dominated but regressive on ball. Gave it away a lot in the first half. Got into the game as it wore on and kept the young lads around him well rallied.

Ethan Robson - 7

Involved sporadically in the first half. Battled well and looks much bigger and stronger than last season.

Bali Mumba - 6

Bullied out of the game at times. Tidy on the ball and incredibly mature in terms of football mindfulness for his age. Good control in the second half and had a great chance one-on-one but couldn't put it away.

Luke Molyneux - 6

Tricky. Pacey. Needs to sort out his end product but had a good game.

Chris Maguire - 7

Looks a player. Linked up well and was the creative outlet early on. He, Robson and James tore Darlo open a few times. Decent set pieces.

Anton Forrester - 5

Rarely involved but good with his back to goal. Bullied a bit. Worth another shot or two.

Don Love - 6

Put in at central defence. Looks much bigger and leaner than last year. Great last ditch tackle and headed clearance from a corner and got forward well when he moved out wide.

Dylan McGeouch - 7

Some great long balls. Dictates the game nicely and thought early could be a key figure in our midfield. He's a terrier but doesn't get forward too often. Good clearance off the line.

Dylan McGeouch dictated play nicely once he came on, making two or three particularly excellent long, cross-field passes.
Sunderland AFC

Lynden Gooch - 6

Rarely involved until late. Wonderful first touch after a brilliant McGeouch cross-field ball led to a decent headed chance.

George Honeyman - 6

Kept game ticking over, usual self really. One good chance in the second.

Max Stryjek - 6

Good on the ball. Rarely tested but made a great one-on-one save late on.

Denver Hume - 6

Lovely touches, one excellent piece of skill to beat his man. Looked a little shaky defensively. One to keep and eye on for the future.

Josh Maja - 6

Lovely movement at times. Looks huge this year too. Played in behind once very well. Should’ve scored but sent a great chance wide. Hit the bar late on, it looked a difficult chance on the turn but was right in front of goal six yards out.

Callum McManaman - 5

Looks to have the beating of his man, then just doesn’t. Involved in a fight and argument too. Par for the course.

Andrew Nelson - 6

Made a few mistakes as expected of youth. He wrongly anticipated the ball on a few occasions. But on the whole, promising. Good touches and great movement. One lovely run and shot late on was unlucky. Also one for the future.