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2 Up, 2 Down: Discussing the good, the bad and the referee after victory over Ipswich Town

Will our panel struggle to find negatives after a victory over a promotion rival? Let’s find out in this round of 2 Up, 2 Down...

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Phil West says...

The biggest positive from tonight was the reward of three juicy, priceless points after a game in which we often appeared laboured, disjointed, and generally out of sorts. Ultimately, however, and despite our struggles, after ninety minutes had elapsed, we found ourselves on the right side of the scoreboard, and at this stage of the season, as winter approaches, that’s absolutely crucial. Twenty-one points from ten games equates to a solid start, even if we haven’t dazzled in many of our games so far.

A second positive came in the shape of Denver Hume, who I thought enjoyed another impressive outing. Hume is becoming a consistent performer on a weekly basis, and even though the team as a whole was below par, Hume was always keen to get involved and show his attacking prowess. He’s definitely a key cog in the Sunderland machine, and he really looks like a player reborn after his inconsistency-plagued 2019/2020 season. Let’s hope he continues to develop and show his worth in the weeks and months ahead.

Gillingham v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Denver Hume
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

A major negative from tonight was our inability to build on the early goal and really take it to Ipswich. At home, scoring first should be the catalyst for a positive, assertive performance, but we retreated into our shells, allowed Ipswich to work their way back into the game, and for long spells of the game, we appeared timid and nervous. It does seem to signify an ongoing mental frailty within the team, and this will have to be conquered if a successful promotion challenge is to be mounted.

The second negative, which was again highlighted tonight, is a chronic lack of pace in the team, something we’ve bemoaned for a long time. We don’t stretch teams enough, with runners in behind opposing defences, and quick transitional play from defence to attack. We do have players in the wider squad who could do this, and I really do hope that Phil Parkinson eventually afford them the opportunity. At the moment, our play is too predictable, and we need to develop multiple ways of getting at teams and keeping them off-balance.

Sunderland v Portsmouth - Sky Bet League 1
Phil Parkinson
Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says...

This was a scrappy affair, low on quality and the added ingredient of a poor referee.

Wyke scores again, to keep his scoring run going. Goals breed confidence so though old saying goes. I don’t think too many would argue goals do not guarantee a good performance. We played poorly for the most part of the game and won. What might happen if we play well?

Parky’s response to Ipswich going a man down was predictably safe. Conor McLaughlin, like quite a few on the night, had played poorly. Sub him, move O’Nien back and bring on Diamond for an injection of pace and something different with the game poised at 1-1. Once again poor use of the bench by the Manager.

On a night where it would be hard to pick a MotM, which was probably Leadbitter for the record, Tom Flanagan excelled in wasteful passing. This is even more noticeable as he gets the ball a lot in the system we are playing.

We did win, and we are in a good position to launch ourselves in to the automatic promotion spots, but oh for a sustained bit of flowing football. I am making a proposal that you are only allowed ten passes that goes backwards each half, rather than the 123 per half we are seeing from our lads at the moment!

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet League One
Grant Leadbitter scoring Sunderland’s winning goal from the spot against Ipswich Town
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

Football is a fickle old game, this time last week it was panic stations because we’d failed to win in two matches. What a difference seven days makes!

The games against Gillingham and Ipswich were far from classics to say the very least, but they have brought six points. With wins comes momentum, the real positive aspect at the moment, and while we seem to be mastering the art of winning ugly, few can argue with the manager if he keeps it going. In fairness, people would be fully behind the manager and team if say Big Sam returned and did the same.

Does this season have similarities with Peter Reid's first full season with the club?
Photo by Matthew Ashton/EMPICS via Getty Images

As the seasons playing out I’m seeing more than a few similarities with Reidy’s first season on Wearside. Especially when it comes to winning penalties, it has been a long time since we won so many penalties kicks in such a short space of time. Those have been proving the difference between draws and wins.

With the Sunderland side not exactly blessed in the goalscoring stakes the best thing we can do is get the ball in the box get control and force the opposition into mistakes which has happened late-on in three matches this season already.

The downside of things, has to be the lack of real cutting edge to really fire the advantage home when we’re on top. We are still to see us hold a comfortable lead at home in the league this season. I doubt that will change any time soon, either.

Despite the flagging energy levels of the team, Parkinson is still reluctant to throw on Jack Diamond in games. But even on that note, there could be a glimmer of hope for the young lad with Saturday’s FA Cup match coming up - we can live in hope.

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