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2 Up, 2 Down: The good, the bad and the ugly from Sunderland’s victory at Portman Road

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Discussing the positives and negatives of Sunderland’s victory over ten-man Ipswich Town - let us know if you agree!

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Ben Pooley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Philip West says...

Two Up

1. Having an in-form striker...

In his time on Wearside, Charlie Wyke been mocked, much-maligned, and regularly written off (including by myself, on more than one occasion) - but there’s no doubt that, without his goals, we’d be absolutely nowhere right now.

Once again, he made the difference with a beautifully controlled finish from a Max Power cross. Another vital goal that not only broke the deadlock and gave us a huge lift at the end of the first half, but ultimately earned us all three points.

Wyke was solid all game, offering a good physical presence upfront, and his work-rate was impressive too. He is shouldering the goalscoring burden, and is doing an admirable job of it. Long may it continue.

2. Elliot Embleton...

Brought on for the booked Carl Winchester in the second half, the 21-year-old gave the team far more spark and purpose going forward. He was keen to get on the ball, keen to make things happen, and sought to stretch Ipswich with every chance he got.

With his attacking instincts, he balanced up the midfield and was a positive presence after a flat first half. In Johnson’s current system, Embleton is the kind of player who can really change the dynamic of a game when introduced, and I think he will have an increasingly important role to play between now and the end of the season.

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Elliot Embleton contributed to an improved Sunderland in the second half at Portman Road
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Two Down

1. Inability to kill the game off...

Our inability to find that all-important second goal, made for a far nervier second half than was necessary. This is a recurring theme at this moment in time, and it is both worrying and perplexing.

Ipswich did defend with grit and heart during the game, particularly after suffering the setback of an early red card, and for all of our efforts, we just couldn’t find the second goal that would’ve made the result safe.

Winning games by any scoreline is the name of the game right now, but you do sometimes wish that a more comprehensive scoreline was achieved at the end of ninety minutes. Perhaps this will be rectified if and when we finally click as an attacking unit, which we aren’t doing yet, despite the positive signs so far.

2. Potential leg-breakers and elbows...

Bailey Wright, who is such a crucial player for us, will be leaving Portman Road battered and bruised after being on the receiving end of two nasty-looking challenges.

The first was a sickening studs-up, leg-breaker of a tackle from Kayden Jackson, which resulted in a straight red card, and later in the game, the Aussie defender was injured in an aerial clash with Mark McGuinness, resulting in him being carted (literally) off the field.

All being well, he’ll recover quickly and be ready for the Gillingham game, but if not, Dion Sanderson is perfectly capable of stepping into the breach and keeping our backline composed and solid.

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Bailey Wright lies awaiting attention before being taken off injured during Sunderland’s victory over Ipswich Town
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

Two Up

1. Yet another clean sheet...

Albeit against 10 men, but still, a few weeks ago it was probably the kind of match that would have been a potential banana skin. Parkinson’s game plans only appeared to be successful against teams a man down late on.

Today was a different game entirely, practically the full match with a man advantage but that doesn’t always mean no danger, but we coped with Ipswich’s few breakaway moments, thankfully.

2. Goalscoring superstar hero...

What can we say, Charlie Wyke is playing better than any forward we’ve had over the last couple of years and scoring regularly, even if we’re not exactly carving out too many gilt-edged changes per game. We certainly can’t ask any more of him.

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League 1
The Sunderland players celebrate Charlie Wyke’s goal in the rain at Portman Road
Photo by Ben Pooley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Two Down

1. Reliance on Charlie Wyke for goals...

It comes down to goals again. Fair enough, we would all take 1-0 every week if it delivered promotion. But in the real world, we need to be seeing goals from other areas too.

Tonight we won, possession-wise and shot-wise we bossed the game, as we should have done in the circumstances. But at 1-0 we’re only ever one mistake away from dropping two points.

Tonight highlighted we need an injection of goals. When on top, we need to be able to kill teams off, in knife edge games it could the difference between another season at this level and Johnson achieving success at his first time of asking.

2. Reliance on Bailey Wright at the back...

The reliance upon one or two players is worrying. Wyke and Wright at opposite ends of the pitch doing very different jobs but leading in their own ways are currently irreplaceable.

They have to play, but frankly we need them wrapping in cotton wool, injury to one or both could derail any lingering hopes we have for making a push for the play-offs towards the second half of the season.

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Bailey Wright has been instrumental in Sunderland’s impressive defensive record so far this season
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says...

Two Up

1. Back to back wins...

For a side so frustratingly used to drawing, picking up six points since the weekend is a considerable shot in the arm.

Let’s hope this can finally kick-start our promotion campaign and give us the confidence we need to go on a winning run. Johnson spoke post match about how we lacked courage in the first half to make clinical forward passes.

He’s acutely aware of the problems he inherited and looks to be addressing them.

2. Strength in depth...

The re-emergence of our sidelined stars. To have the likes of Gooch and O’Nien returning from the bench only adds strength to our ranks and adds healthy competition within the squad.

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League 1
Roker Report's Joseph Tulip comments that the return of Lynden Gooch and Luke O'Nien give us healthy competition for places in the coming weeks
Photo by Ben Pooley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Two Down

1. Nervy final stages...

Johnson stuck with three central midfielders after the early sending off as we struggled to break down Ipswich. This perhaps should have been an opportunity to introduce Diamond and his much-missed pace, even at half time with us 1-0 up.

We didn’t kill off the game but fortunately got over the line with the three points.

2. Bailey Wright injury...

Another injury at the back. We’ve suffered with defensive setbacks this season and Bailey Wright certainly went through the mill at Ipswich.

Hopefully he will make a full recovery soon and be fit to face Gillingham on Saturday.

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