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2 Up, 2 Down: The great and the good from Sunderland’s convincing victory over AFC Wimbledon

Is there any downside to winning by a three goal margin away from home whilst keeping a clean sheet? Let’s find out in this round of two up, two down!

AFC Wimbledon v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says...

Two Up...

What a game Willis had. Strong and aggressive in the tackle and defensive headers. Quick to the ball and fairly accurate in his distribution (which can often be wayward). A real Roy of the Rovers performance on his return to the centre of defence. I am particularly pleased about this given how good our defensive record is.

With Sanderson and Wright performing well too, there would appear to be real healthy competition at the heart of our defence. Willis was Man of the Match for me.

Charlie Wyke’s hat-trick of course deserves an honourable mention, in fairness to the big fella he took all three of his goals very well. He is not the most balletic of performers but was in the right place at the right time and gets to take the match ball home.

Having come through a very dodgy patch the substitutions changed the game, with our defence standing firm Diamonds pace exposed the Dons as they stepped up 10 metres to try and snatch a point. Parky would have parked the bus on 60 mins but that is not Big Lee’s way.

Credit him with getting Diamond and Winchester (who played a part in one of the goals) on to the park and for looking to keep attacking. Diamond certainly has pace and his cameo in the last third of the game was very very good. Honorable mention for Power who put an energetic and competent performance in at right back.

AFC Wimbledon v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Max Power
Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Two Down...

This game went through a horrible patch after half time, where a number of our midfield and forward line appeared to join in the banal scrappy bun fight. The inability to get our foot on the ball and move it quickly and accurately in the face of a rugged and robust Wimbledon during this period really was a concern.

Scowen, O’Brien, Embleton and Wyke, along with McFadzean, were all guilty of losing the ball far too easily as we came down to kick and rush football. Leadbitter put his usual shift in during this period, but moving the ball offensively with pace is no longer his game. This should be a concern for Big Lee, as there are better teams in this league who will take advantage of this.

The second positive for me was Maguire. I have never considered him particularly good at coming on as sub. It usually takes him ages to get going when he starts from the off and as sub he rarely does anything useful.

We have all seen what Maguire can bring and it just seems an age since we have seen it. Come on Chris, your crown is slipping. I may be doing him a mis-service, but his dive and looking as if he was unconscious appeared to be his only contribution to the game. Big Lee might not fancy him as a player, Maguire needs to show him he is wrong.

Sunderland v Port Vale - EFL Trophy
Chris Maguire
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Mark Wood says...

Two Up...

Even in the games prior to this it has been evident that Lee Johnson is trying to evolve a style of play that is a million miles away from Phil Parkinson’s ‘hoofball’ philosophy. Our new manager likes to build play from the back and work through the midfield rather than the centre backs launching the ball forwards over the head of the likes of Power and Scowen.

At times over the past few weeks Sunderland have struggled to create chances, but it has been a lot easier on the eye to watch a side that is trying to put together passing moves that involves the whole team than one which plays route one and scrapes out at best a 1-0 or 2-0 win. On the evidence so far I would take watching a Lee Johnson Sunderland than Phil Parkinson’s Sunderland any day.

Well done Charlie Wyke. A player who could generate a weekly podcast debate by himself, showed what he is best at - poaching goals. After the game against Hull where he had one of those all too familiar ineffective days, he looked way happier as part of a front two, finding more space and not with the sole responsibility of holding the ball up when Sunderland broke forwards.

His goals all came from the ball being played to his strengths, two to his feet at the near post and the third with the ball played behind the last defender for him to run onto. For me it seemed to be something the team had worked at and maybe, just maybe we have a manager who wants to set the team up to play to the strengths of his strikers, rather than one who wanted his strikers to perform a role in a system that they struggled with.

Two Down...

After a bright start and some good individual performances in the first half from the likes of Embleton and O’Brien, the whole team faded badly as the game stagnated in the second. For a while the prospect of a Wimbledon equaliser seemed likely, until both sides decided to have an end to end thriller from the 85th minute onwards. A couple of months ago, this would have ended 1-1, but even though we won well in the end, 3-0 flattered us.

Despite talk that a good win could take us up to 4th in the table, after other results it made little difference. If we want to be in the mix in May then we need more than the odd big win like this and Lincoln. The promoted teams put together sequences of six or seven consecutive wins on the bounce, something that we would have to up our game considerably to attain.

AFC Wimbledon v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Aiden O’Brien
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Malcolm Dugdale says...

Two Up...

First up, we won 3-0 when we didn’t play that well for large stretches of the game. Winning ugly is normally a rough 1-0 and that was the situation till about 85 minutes in, but we got three and Chaz got a hat trick. If we can win like that when the chips are down then we may be ok.

Willis looked good back with Wright and we got a clean sheet despite them hitting the post. We absorbed pressure well and we hit the post too. Burge returned well, with another brave save at an attackers feet to keep his goal empty. Good signs for our back 4 plus goalie.

Two Down...

Gooch has apparently tested positive for Covid after a strong showing along side O’Brien in the cup. That’s him out for two weeks just when we seemed to have another attacking option. We didn’t need more today but will we need other options soon?

Also, until Diamond came in we lacked penetration and didn’t threaten much post going one up. We need to find a formation where he is embraced and allowed to flourish but isn’t double marked out of his game as he is a game changer in a number of ways

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