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2 Up, 2 Down: The good, the bad and the last minute from Sunderland’s draw at Doncaster (Part 2)

We had more than our usual responses to this week’s 2 Up, 2 Down; so just to spoil you, here’s the second part of what was hot and what was not from our draw at Doncaster Rovers!

Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

Two up: Watching a highlight from yesteryear reminded me just how well Leadbitter could strike a ball. In fact, didn’t the extremely-hard-to-please Roy Keane once refer to Grant as ‘our Paul Scholes?’ Leadbitter’s looked revitalised in the deeper roll he’s been given this season, but when goals are not flowing why not put him in a shooting position just outside the box? Well, his beauty of a strike against Doncaster certainly makes the case for that. What a strike!

When two points have been snatched away at the death it feels like a defeat. It’s hard to take a positive from that. However, if any match highlighted Parkinson’s shortcomings and lack of ambition it is this one. It can’t have gone unnoticed by the board or any would-be new owners. In that case, for the growing number of Phil Parkinson critics, the closer he is to the exit door perhaps the better.

Two down: We’re out of the play-off places, when at half-time things looked so rosy. A lack of consistency is the reason players and teams find themselves at League One level. No one is running away with the league, and despite our dip in form we could and should have been sitting pretty after the game – but indecision on the manager’s part – preferring to stick rather than twist – has cost us again.

Where are the goals coming from? In recent weeks, even if it hasn’t been good to watch, Wyke has justified his place in the side being our only out-and-out goalscoring forward. But if he can’t do that, he has to put himself about and work his arse off. When that doesn’t happen, like against Doncaster, it doesn’t just put pressure on him but the rest of the team and Parkinson. I’ve seen some poor forwards pull on the red and white stripes, but this is quite simply the worst set of strikers I’ve ever seen for Sunderland!

Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Charlie Wyke
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Paul Fletcher says...

Let’s start with the positives. Two of our best players today (and, in my opinion, two of our best players all season) were Grant Leadbitter and Conor McLaughlin – two players who were written off by many Sunderland supporters last season. To me, that’s a massive plus because it shows that there is a bit of character and some fight within the squad. Hopefully a few other players can follow their example.

The majority of our game against Doncaster was very good. We looked solid defensively up until a ninety-third minute lapse, and the football we played was significantly better than the dross that we’ve served up in the last half dozen games.

Leadbitter and Scowen linked up well, as did O’Nien and McLaughlin. The passing, for large parts of the match, was sharp and positive. Our movement in the middle of the park was excellent – it enabled us to get our key players, particularly Denver Hume and Lynden Gooch, into dangerous positions.

Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League 1
Lynden Gooch
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As for the negatives, the remaining part of our play was terrible. How can you completely dominate a game without ever really looking like scoring? As I mentioned in my previous point, we worked the ball into some great attacking positions – but that was as good as it got.

We failed to capitalise from any of these good positions – a combination of poor tactics, poor decision making, poor delivery and poor movement. What is the point of crossing the ball in the box when the contents of said box are three opposition defenders and Charlie Wyke, who looks like he’s in training for the world musical statues championship?

I still can’t see where the goals are coming from and without scoring more goals, we won’t win enough games to get promoted. Jack Ross tried to one-nil his way to promotion out of League One and it didn’t work. It won’t work for Phil Parkinson either.

All of the recent goals we’ve scored have been down to luck or magic rather than good play. We can score from penalties. We can score courtesy of lucky deflections. We can score the occasional wonder goal like Grant Leadbitter did on Saturday or like we’ve seen Lynden Gooch and Chris Maguire score in the past. But if those are your three best hopes of scoring a goal, then I don’t care what the XG stats says – I’m not expecting many goals.

Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League 1
Chris Maguire
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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