Sunderland ground out a win last night on what was an absolutely appalling pitch.
In recent weeks the lads have moved the ball really nicely at times in order to find the killer pass required to fashion a chance on goal, but yesterday we really struggled to play our normal game.
That being said, the fact that the side were able to find a way to win was a real positive. Our more attacking players struggled to hold onto the ball effectively last night, yet despite the awful conditions it was reassuring to know that Parkinson’s side were capable of finding a way to win.
This weekend Sunderland face Portsmouth at Fratton Park, in what will be a much sterner test. The trial by sand last night will hopefully have given the side a confidence boost in the knowledge that, despite not being able to play to their utmost potential, this side still has the ability to find a way to win. That’s a great trait to have heading into the business end of the season - something Sunderland arguably lacked under Jack Ross.
Defence Shines Again
Bailey Wright made his debut in place of Alim Ozturk and gave a really positive performance in which he was excellent in the air, generally commanding at the back, and sensible in possession. He’s going to be a solid addition to the side and will offer Sunderland depth in what has become a crucial area of the pitch.
The entire defence was on good form last night against a side that looked to play a very direct game in order to combat the awful conditions. As has been the case in recent weeks, Sunderland defended really well and earned their fourth clean sheet in a row. In fact, the last time Sunderland’s defence conceded a goal was against Lincoln on January 4th, and that goal arguably shouldn’t have counted as it was clearly offside. The game before that, against Fleetwood, the only goal conceded was a penalty.
Steve Tiltman noted back in November on the site that Parkinson’s appointment was bringing a new emphasis on defence, and that Sunderland were showing defensive form that suggested if we found a way to convert at the other end we’d be in with a chance of promotion.
That’s not to say there haven’t been a few hairy moment at the back, but right now Sunderland are putting themselves in a position in which their solid defence is providing the foundation upon which our promotion hunt is being built.
Reinforcements Still Needed
Ultimately, last night the side ebbed out a good win against a stubborn side on an awful pitch. That being said, despite Maguire and Wyke combining for Sunderland’s goal, Sunderland could have used a couple of options from the bench to liven up their game.
Kyle Lafferty is decent foil for Charlie Wyke, and Josh Scowen could well take Dobson’s place in the side if the youngster doesn’t show improvement from what was a tricky night for him last night; as already mentioned, Bailey Wright is another good option in defence.
Sunderland, though, still need a couple of reinforcements, in my opinion. I’ve noted this in a couple of articles recently, but if Gooch or Maguire aren’t able to impact the game - Sunderland will struggle.
Should one get injured, our promotion push could well come off the rails.
As such, it would be good to see Phil Parkinson bring in a couple of reinforcements to help the side out. A pacey wide players, and a technically gifted midfielder could well provide the tools needed to ensure Sunderland’s attack is able to find the goals needed to lift us up the league table.