Philip West says...
In terms of positives that we can take from last night’s game, the form of Chris Maguire is certainly one of them. He showed his worth with two goals and two assists, and his all-around play was very impressive. If we want to achieve anything this season, Maguire will be at the heart of it. I truly shudder to think of where we’d be without him, so crucial is he to our attacking game, and he’s started the season like a man who is determined to make this his final season in this league.
The second standout came in the shape of Denver Hume, who is really beginning to show his worth at wing-back. His performance provided some dynamism and a genuine attacking threat from the flank, and he’s definitely improving on an almost weekly basis, which is great to see. I’ve always believed that he’s got the potential to become a very good player for us, and if he can stay on his current path, he’s got every chance of doing just that.
On the negative side, Remi Matthews turned in a very shaky, unconvincing performance that highlighted the potential problems we would face if Lee Burge were to get injured. He seldom looked comfortable and, worryingly, that did seem to spread through the team. He hasn’t enjoyed the most auspicious of starts to his Sunderland career, and there are certainly question marks over our depth in that position.
The second issue was a somewhat underwhelming performance from George Dobson on his return to the side. I’ve backed Dobson for a while, as a player who is young enough to improve and who can add to our midfield options. He didn’t shine at all last night, unfortunately, and looked somewhat low on confidence for much of the game. Our midfield is reasonably well-stocked, but I would still like to see Dobson step up and show he can do a job when called upon.
Malcolm Dugdale says...
Being a cup game, I must confess my focus was on the players coming back from injury or suspension and those who we haven’t yet seen in League One action to see if they can push for a place in the starting XI.
On that note, the first and most significant positive of the night was Jack Diamond. He tortured his opponent for most of the game, always willing to take on his man or make an attacking run to create options. His man of the match recognition by Jimmy in the Roker Report player ratings was well deserved, and surely gives him a start in upcoming games after the internationals are played out.
The second positive, is the never ending flexibility and capability of Luke O’Nien. Asked again to play yet another position and he yet again did not let us down. Whilst not the tallest, his aerial prowess along with his trademark aggression and work rate, meant he proved he is a genuine utility man.
On the negatives, I remain very worried about our goalkeeping situation. Matthews gave away a very avoidable penalty, much like Burge did in the early season. I’m yet to be convinced that we have a goalie who can command his box, not make simple mistakes, and stop shots effectively. John McLaughlin is a miss this season and we may well need another option to be sure we don’t suffer from that.
My final negative would be the defensive depth in the squad. With the removal of Flanagan and Willis and the introduction of Taylor and O’Nien, it demonstrated that we look considerably weaker when the personnel either side of Bailey Wright is switched out.
Taylor had an OK game for an emerging academy player, and O’Nien as mentioned was impressive in yet another position, but without Willis and Flanagan, Bailey Wright looked exposed.
Avoiding injuries to our first choice defenders will be vital, especially if we don’t strengthen in what’s left of the transfer window and the lack of goals up front could be combined with a lack of clean sheets at the back.
All in all a decent performance but with plenty of food for thought for the manager, which is just what I wanted from a cup game, especially one that offers little to SAFC fans other than that.
Kelvin Beattie says...
Simply Jack Diamond’s performance is the main plus point in my view. As long as we accept he is going to lose the ball as he takes his man on more often than not, his pace and ability are a welcome bonus.
Danny Graham is another who had a good run out, he won a couple of headers and held the ball up well in his brief time on the pitch. The ex-Swansea City man also provided a classy pull down and lay off for the best goal of the night, which suggests there is more to come.
On to the negatives and let’s face it, Wyke’s performance wasn’t good. Nothing sticking and continual fouling often in the opposition box creating easy exit’s for them.
Another was Brandon Taylor, who I was willing to do well, but just looked nervous and probably off the pace. He did make a couple of good one on one tackles, but lost the ball on at least three occasions in very dangerous areas.