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Talking Points: The THREE Sunderland players who emerge from Saturday’s win with the most credit

“There were many good individual performances from the Sunderland players on Saturday, but in my opinion these three men emerged with the most credit” writes @Gav1879.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Alim Ozturk...

First of all I think it’s important to recognise that, yet again, Alim Ozturk played very well.

This lad deserves immense credit for his conduct since joining the club. He arrived here very clearly unfit and not ready to play games, and after becoming something of a joke figure after a short series of poor performances he found himself totally out of consideration for almost all of the remainder of the season.

He’s knuckled down, kept quiet, got himself fit and, as such, as proven to be massively important to our side for the final few games of the season.

To say I’m worried that his red card mighn’t be overturned speaks volumes for just how important he’s became to this team since he was given the chance to play against Doncaster on Good Friday.

And onto the red card - what an atrocious piece of refereeing. There was absolutely no hesitation from the official when making his decision - no sooner had Ozturk collided with Gareth Evans had Andy Woolmer raced across to throw the red card up in the air.

I’m actually pretty confident that it’ll be overturned. Ozturk appears to make contact with the ball first and, despite that, Evans is already jumping to get out of the way.

I can understand that big decisions are tough to make in an instant, but why was Woolmer so sure that Ozturk had fouled him? Even if he had, the ball was running out towards the corner - he wasn’t denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and that, in my book, means it’s not a foul.

Woolmer didn’t take the opportunity to speak to the official who was in line with play - his mind was made up and, in front of a big crowd with the sky cameras watching him, he was determined to have his moment in the spotlight.

The refereeing at this level is truly horrendous. We’ve already had a small handful of red cards overturned this season and should we add another it’ll only add to the consensus opinion that when these lower league officials come to the Stadium of Light they simply cannot handle the occasion, and make rash decisions.


PA Images via Getty Images

Lynden Gooch...

Another player who deserves a slap on the back is Lynden Gooch.

I saw conflicting opinions on social media regarding his performance but I personally thought we saw the type of showing from Lynden that we became accustomed to in the opening weeks of the season.

He was unselfish, used his strength well to craft openings, delivered some very good crosses into dangerous positions and worked incredibly hard both offensively and defensively. He was unfortunate to get hooked after Ozturk’s red card but, sadly, someone had to make way and at that stage it made sense to leave George Honeyman on from a defensive perspective.

It’s been frustrating watching Gooch this season because we know he’s capable of far more than he’s shown. Where early on this season he was more decisive in key areas, the biggest annoyance with Lynden has been how everything he does is at 100 mph.

On Saturday we saw more of what he’s best at, and at the end of the game and when he was subbed off the crowd showed their appreciation by chanting his name.

His post-match comments certainly indicated that he’s aware he needs to do better, and finally he’s been able to temper some of his frustrations with a decent performance. Now it’s time to kick on - if he can play like that in the final two games he’ll be a real asset.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Chris Maguire...

Finally we reserve a word for the King, who came on at the perfect time to swing the pendulum in Sunderland’s favour and give us the added impetus we were lacking for most of the opening hour or so of the game.

I was disappointed that Maguire never started the game, particularly so when Aiden McGeady withdrew from the starting eleven in the warm up, but to be fair to Jack Ross the decision paid off. Maguire came on and gave us the shot of adrenaline we needed just at the right time, and as such he scored an important goal and played a vital part in us running the time down when Portsmouth tried to apply pressure after the red card.

So does he start on Thursday or do we reflect on the fact he was, once again, a very effective impact substitute and instead look to utilise him from the bench later in the game?

Tough one to call, and I’m honestly not sure what I’d do. Good luck, Jack...

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