Sunderland’s undefeated start to their League One campaign eventually came to an end down at Burton after weeks of threatening to happen, producing concerns amongst supporters for the visit of Rochdale on the following Saturday.
Those concerns were, of course, short-lived as our team proved that they’re not as soft a touch as some of the other Sunderland sides in recent history, and we bounced back in emphatic style with a rousing 4-1 victory over our visitors from Greater Manchester.
Several players disappointed with their performances in the game at the Pirelli Stadium and the rejig carried out by Jack Ross ahead of the Rochdale fixture worked an absolute treat. Chris Maguire impressed coming off the bench and bagging an absolute belter of a consolation goal. He made the most of his recall and was a constant threat throughout the 4-1 victory over Rochdale.
Leaving the individual players performances aside, it was a phenomenal way to respond to our first defeat of the season. The first hurdle to overcome was to not concede first, which we managed with some style. Conceding within the first twenty-or-so minutes of matches has recently been a frustrating habit and, despite not putting in the best performances, we managed to push onto the front foot and bag the opening goal.
The clinical nature of the final ten minutes of the first half will, if repeated enough, be enough to sweep aside any team in this division. If we don’t let teams settle, then the goals will continue to flow.
Bouncing back from a bad day at the office at the first attempt is a key element of any successful side. We continue to be a team full of goals, and it is incredibly entertaining. One niggle would be our failure to keep clean sheets - a continuation of leaking sloppy goals could become a major issue further down the line.
We may have won 4-1 but we will play much better sides than Rochdale this season and they will take advantage of our often unstable-looking defence with far worse consequences.
Our last four home games can be split neatly into two categories. The draws against Oxford and Fleetwood were examples of how teams will come up to the Stadium of Light purely to frustrate us. The wins against Scunthorpe and Rochdale showed exactly how we should play against teams in this division - clinical finishing and energy has won us a lot of points this season, let’s hope this continues for the foreseeable future.
At the start of the season I was confident we wouldn’t lose many matches and I stand by that. The squad depth that we have to call upon has made sure we have come out on top in five matches already this season - it was fantastic to bounce back from defeat in such style, and seeing a Sunderland side play for each other and romping home with ease is still taking some getting used to.
Let’s hope we don’t have to bounce back from a defeat again any time soon!