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FINLAY’S REPORT: The lack of fight from Sunderland in the 2nd half at Burton was a huge concern

Whilst we mustn’t let one defeat cloud our overall judgement of this team, the fact Sunderland showed very little in the way of fight in the second half yesterday at Burton is concerning.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Yesterday saw Sunderland suffer their first defeat of the season - but it wasn’t one that we should let dampen our start to the League One campaign. With four wins, three draws and one defeat, you have to be impressed in comparison to the start to the season’s that we have had in recent years.

I have to say that I was surprised that Ross played four out-and-out attackers in Jerome Sinclair, Charlie Wyke, Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch due to the fact that in recent games that the boss has stuck with one up front in Maja. So, from that perspective, it was very disappointing that we had only scored one goal and couldn’t win the match.

In my opinion, on Saturday, Burton exploited our weaknesses. This was starting the game negatively and on the back foot. Fair play to them for doing that but looking at our view on this, we must stop this sooner rather than later otherwise we are going to slip slowly down the table and not achieve our target of promotion.

For the first goal, Sordell luckily managed to square the ball to Allen after a deflection by Jack Baldwin, and then Jamie Allen was able to touch the ball into the bottom left corner after we had stopped still like statues, not expecting the ball to fall to him.

In the last few years, we have failed to deal with set-pieces and that has been the difference between winning and losing, leading to dropping points week-in-week out and relegation in the last two seasons.

This season is exactly the same - we have conceded five goals out of seven league goals from set-pieces including the one from this match. It wasn’t even hard for McFadzean to header in after the cross from the free-kick as there was no one around him and McLaughlin didn’t even attempt to keep the ball out of his net.

Before half time, Maguire came on for Wyke after a collision with their keeper and he was then stretchered off. It will be a huge loss if he is out for a long time as he gives Jack Ross another area to play with and alternate with different players and systems in different games.

In the second half, Maguire scored a superb goal to pull one back for us but after that, there was hardly any fight back from a team that is wanting to be challenging for promotion back to the EFL Championship.

Another thing that we must do better in upcoming games is to stop letting in goals in the opening 30 minutes because so far, he have conceded six goals in the opening half an hour in the opening eight games of the season. I am sure that Jack Ross will be looking at ways to trying to stop that from happening so his side can keep more clean sheets than the only one this season against Scunthorpe United.

Next Saturday, we face Rochdale at the Stadium of Light, who won 3-0 yesterday against Gillingham FC with Ian Henderson scoring a hat-trick, and they will want to continue their unbeaten away run in the league by beating us, but hopefully the lads can give us something to be proud of.