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Sunderland v Bradford City - EFL Trophy

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Two Up, Two Down: What are the big positives and negatives from Sunderland’s latest performance?

Now that the dust has settled, what are the big positives and negatives from Sunderland’s last performance, against Bradford?

Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says...

TWO UP!

Broadhead’s back! A lively hour against a rugged and motivated Bradford defence showed us again what a good player this young lad is going to be. He took his goal very well and ran the lines with intelligence and gusto. My only disappointment was that we did not get to see him and Will Harris working the front line in tandem. All being well, he will benefit now from the international break and be match ready for the Ipswich game, where I would play him up front with Ross Stewart.

Embleton at it! It was encouraging to see Elliot Embleton more in the game and looking like he fancies the battle. His short and long passing game is very good on his day - his ball to Broadhead for our goal was pinpoint - and on another night he might have had a goal himself. I believe he could be a key player in the second half of the season, and I just hope that Lee Johnson can help keep him ‘at it’.

Sunderland v Bradford City - EFL Trophy Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

TWO DOWN!

Pritchard dilemma! Like last Saturday’s performance, Alex ritchard showed some flashes of what he can bring to our game - and he may even have had a goal himself from an excellent free-kick late in the second half. When sticking to a short-ball ‘give & go’ game, he looks like he could be effective. He also has the ability to beat a close marker when necessary. All that said, for me he missed another opportunity to provide a knock-out performance. He lost the ball in contact, looking for too many touches, and dwelling in possession too often. His effort is apparent, especially when you watch him up close and live, but his touch and decision making are too often wayward at the moment. I do appreciate he is a naturally high-risk player in possession, but at present, it looks like he just not getting it right on the pitch.

Embarrassing booing. A much better Remembrance ceremony prior to kick-off was undone by the booing from what can only now be described as our racist minority, upon the Bradford’s team taking a knee. There has been clear and substantial feedback from teams and players that this gesture is in support of anti-racism. The minority who continue to boo are an embarrassment to the club and us the supporters. Their spurious excuses for this behaviour can no longer shelter them from the label racist… it’s time to stop or take it elsewhere. This kind of behaviour should not be welcome at the SoL.

Sunderland v Bradford City - EFL Trophy Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says...

TWO UP!

Broadhead made the sort of run and strike we have been missing on the goal. It is great to see him getting back to full fitness. He can give us some real pace and options up top and that is something we really need as our scoring rate needs to climb, especially if we struggle with clean sheets.

We came back from one behind and drew. This meant that we gained a point - despite the loss on spot kicks - which means we top the group and play at home next round. If we can sort out our general form starting at home in league and cups we can build from that.

Sunderland v Bradford City - EFL Trophy Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

TWO DOWN!

We let in another goal against power league players with poor defending down our right side, and poor marking in the box. For me, there must be something with the shape and approach at fault (are we done marking and just not great at it?) as it doesn’t matter what we do in terms of personnel, we seem exposed on the opponents right attacking side. We have to address this, and quick. Until then, we need to try other options and methods, or we will continue to suffer.

We still seem to struggle to get the best out of Dajaku, Gooch and Pritchard. They are all decent players who would get a run out for most teams but they aren’t clicking, and the sooner we find a way to do that the better off we will be (though Pritch was so unlucky to almost break the bar with his free-kick… the goalie was nowhere). If they can make the middle of the park a football experience another level up, even the thugs and bully boys in this division won’t be able to keep up with us. The issue recently may be that we aren’t quite linking up and pulling off that speed of pass and move enough, and until we do, we will continue to lose ball mid park and hence building from there will falter too.

In the end we failed to restore that winning feeling against Bradford though, so the confidence boost we need is still to arrive.

Sunderland v Bradford City - EFL Trophy Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

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