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“Can things get any worse?”

“Can things get any worse?”, asks RR’s junior journo Finlay Anderson in his rundown of Sunderland’s EFL Trophy drubbing last night at the hands of Scunthorpe.

Scunthorpe v Sunderland: Trophy Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

There were chants of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt” from the Sunderland fans housed in the away end last night after their side were obliterated, dropping out of the Trophy at the group stage as they lost 3-0 against League Two strugglers Scunthorpe.

Luke O’Nien was sent off with 65 minutes on the clock - the beginning of Sunderland’s downfall. Lee Novak scored the resulting penalty and in the space of three minutes, Abobaker Eisa and Lee Novak made Scunthorpe’s win convincing.

The Team...

Phil Parkinson made five changes to the team that drew 1-1 against Gillingham in the first round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

With Jon McLaughlin being absent for the Black Cats on international duty for Scotland, Lee Burge returned in between the sticks, with Denver Hume also coming back into the side after missing out on Saturday with a virus. There was no sign of Will Grigg in the squad, so Marc McNulty lead the line alongside Aiden McGeady and Duncan Watmore.

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

First Half Action

Sunderland began the match as the more optimistic of the two sides, and probably should have had a penalty with less than five minutes on the clock. A quick burst of pace by Luke O’Nien got him to the byline and tried to cut in but was tripped in the area by Junior Brown. The referee - Darren Handley - turned down the protests of the Sunderland players, and instead pointed for a goal kick.

The Black Cats began to carve some chances for themselves and the Scunthorpe goalkeeper nearly paid the price from escaping from his goal line. A long ball up from Power found McNulty, with Eastwood being attracted from his line. McNulty’s cutback to Watmore allowed him to chip the keeper, but his lob flew over the bar.

Confidence was rising high for Scunthorpe with only one defeat in seven in League Two, and almost took the lead to put them in control of this match. Lee Novak was positioned well inside the penalty area when the ball was cut back to him, but unfortunately for the hosts, Novak arrowed it over.

Momentum began to grow for the hosts and weren’t far away from taking the lead when a nice chip from John McAtee found James Perch on the right side of the penalty area. He lashed his right boot at the ball, but it flew across the face of Lee Burge’s goal.

As the first half progressed, Sunderland’s dominance in the match shrunk and Scunthorpe began to become more confident. Jacob Bedeau’s header from a corner from the right was luckily nodded away for another corner by Luke O’Nien.

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Second Half Action

Phil Parkinson made a half time substitution in defence with Laurens de Bock replacing Joel Lynch, with de Bock slotting into Lynch’s centre-back role.

George Dobson was lucky that Scunthorpe didn’t profit from an opportunity gifted to them when Dobson couldn’t control the ball and slipped under his feet. Abobaker Eisa took hold of possession and was through on goal, but dragged his shot wide of the right post.

Scunthorpe were given a big opportunity to take the lead when they were given a penalty and Sunderland were reduced to ten men. Abobaker Eisa was through in the penalty area and was pulled over by O’Nien when he was about to pull the trigger. The referee - Darren Handley - decided that it was a penalty and after a few seconds, he showed Luke O’Nien a red card.

Sunderland’s task was made even harder when Scunthorpe netted the penalty. Lee Novak launched the ball into the bottom left corner, sending Lee Burge the wrong way.

With 74 minutes on the clock, Phil Parkinson made his second change when Duncan Watmore was removed from the game, with Chris Maguire replacing him in attack.

Burge kept Sunderland in the game with just over ten minutes remaining - a brilliant, tricky run by Abobaker Eisa found himself within a few yards out, but his shot was saved by the legs of Burge. Yet, Sunderland’s fate was sealed when Scunthorpe doubled their lead. A knock-on from a Scunthorpe corner from the right found Eisa, who turned and fired the ball under Lee Burge and into the back of the Sunderland net.

Scunthorpe made sure that it was a thrashing for the Black Cats when Lee Novak made it three-nil. James Perch crossed the ball into the penalty area, and Novak rose the highest and nodded it into the top left corner.

After the additional time at the end of the match ended, the match ended Scunthorpe United 3-0 Sunderland - a disastrous performance from a strong Sunderland side who were outplayed by supposedly inferior opposition.

Scunthorpe v Sunderland: Trophy Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Finlay’s Verdict

Can things get any worse?

Despite this only being an EFL Trophy match, Parkinson chose a full-strength side, and he would have wanted to win but was given nothing from the players - I can only remember one attempt that we had. This has been a regular occurrence in recent games, and something that has to stop NOW.

We have no one that is a prolific goal scorer - the money the club spent on Will Grigg has gone down the drain for me - we’re relying on Charlie Wyke when he comes back from injury, and god knows if he’ll be capable of doing anything.

In all fairness, I wouldn’t have cared if we went out of the Trophy or even the FA Cup, but the way we crashed out of this competition shows that the mentality of our players is weak. The way the results have gone recently meant that we needed to win, and for me there was no sign that we were even going to score one, against a team who is fourth-bottom of League Two.

Right now this is one of the worst periods that the club has ever experienced, and if it doesn’t end soon we’re going to be in great danger of staying in League One for a whole lot longer than anyone would have wished for us to do so.

We have a week’s break before our next game, and Parkinson has to use this time wisely - otherwise, a lot more supporters will start turning on him and questioning his appointment before he’s even really got his feet under the table.

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