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Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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Two Up, Two Down: What were the biggest positives & negatives from Sunderland’s draw at Ipswich?

What were the biggest positives and negatives that we can take from the way Sunderland played on Saturday? Our panel thrash it out, now that the dust has settled...

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says...


Sssh! With a new manager in the stands and a full house too we knew Portman Road was going to be lively, but come full time the Lads had well and truly killed the mood. All you could hear was the excellent away turnout, and with any luck it will be the same on Tuesday at Arsenal. We’ve all seen that Sunderland can sometimes crumble in the face of a high tempo start from an opposition side backed by a big atmosphere, but instead of buckling we showed some maturity, played ourselves into the game and actually had the better of the second half.

You’ll have to do better than that! Although I wouldn’t mind a few more clean sheets we are now getting to a stage where sides know they need to score twice if they are going to beat us. For long periods teams could happily soak up any pressure we were having, safe in the knowledge they could go up the other end of the pitch, score once and take the three points. Against both Cambridge United and Ipswich Town though we have conceded at bad times but then gathered ourselves and got something from the game, meaning it is now well over a month since we lost away from home. 1-1 used to be the bain of our lives, but the odd draw here and there now that we have managed to turn other tight matches into wins could prove to be pretty handy.

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


Overtime for the physios... Just when it looked like we were getting some bodies back Leon Dajaku gets whacked and could potentially be unavailable for upcoming games. The lads have done well when being asked to play in unfamiliar roles and I know injuries are part of the game, but we seem to be getting more than our fair share and it could catch up with us eventually. The Dajaku one is particularly annoying as it was the result of a dreadful tackle that the referee somehow felt didn’t even warrant a booking, and because he has been putting the graft in since moving across to England.

Overtime for the drivers... It’s been discussed several times before, but I still think sending teams on their longest journeys during the winter months is absurd. I know the fixture list needs to be random to a point and that fans are not obliged to go to these games, but surely some allowances could be made. Prolonged spells of driving in the dark or in poor weather increases the chances of collisions and breakdowns, and yet we’ve had Plymouth Argyle coming up to Wearside and now Sunderland trekking down and across to Suffolk, both in December. Not only are the conditions harder and public transport more likely to be out of the question, but this is invariably the most expensive time of the year too and when funds are tight people might appreciate a bit more thought being put into these things.

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

Kelvin Beattie says...


Digging in! A game of two halves probably sums this game up nicely. The Tractor Boys came out firing on all cylinders, as the big crowd got increasingly involved in the game. There was some very real pressure on our defence, without necessarily testing Hoffmann directly. Gooch and Wright were tested repeatedly and Doyle and Flanagan were busy. Winchester covered a lot of “dock rat” ground in the first 45 minutes (hard grafting yards in the defensive cause). We also need to acknowledge Ross Stewart’s defensive efforts. He reminds me of Ian Rush, who was considered Liverpool’s first defender by his team mates and fans alike. Offensively we struggled to get our game going in the first half, probably a combination of Ipswich pressure and not quite being at it. What was commendable was the collective effort defensively.

Heeeeeed! What a nicely worked and well-taken goal by Nathan Broadhead. We were definitely in the ascendency when we scored. With Neil on the ball offensively, and the ball being moved a lot sharper, we looked lively and likely from the start of the second half. Gooch and Hume made reasonable runs in the 2nd half and a really slick bit of inter-passing presented Stuart with a good chance to pull further ahead, however the keeper just managed to get a touch with his thigh and deflect the passing shot. We need to credit the team for upping their offensive game in the second half.


Easy Pickings... A gritty defensive display in the first half was spoilt by what looked like lax marking for the Ipswich goal in time added on at the end of the first half. This follows on from the static defense lapse for the Plymouth goal last week. Some more work to do there for coaches and defence.

Dajaku... The injury to DJ did not look hopeful when he went off, adding to our growing list of absent first-team players. Even though it allowed Hume to get some game time, the injuries and absentees are mounting up at a particularly difficult time of the season.

Sunderland v Morecambe - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Paul Fletcher says...


Broadhead scored again. In order to get out of this league, you need to have at least one forward who is finding the back of the net consistently. Broadhead has scored four in his last three appearances. He had a tough afternoon, hardly touching the ball for long periods. But at that moment when Dan Neil played him through, he finished confidently and that’s all you can really ask for - long may his goalscoring form continue.

Denver Hume survived unscathed. In modern football, it’s quite rare for a player to come straight back into the first team after a relatively long spell out injured. I thought it was a risk bringing him straight back into the action during a high-intensity game. It was a risk worth taking though - he made a big difference when he came on and contained the threat from Wes Burns very well. It would be great to see him stay fit, kick on in the next few games and really make that left-back spot his own, especially knowing that Dennis Cirkin is not far from full fitness and will be vying for the very same position.

Sunderland v Manchester United U21 - Papa John’s Trophy Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Ipswich stopped us playing. They got their gameplan spot on and executed it well for long periods. My worry is that other teams could take notice of this and follow suit. When we have the luxury of time on the ball and the chance to create space, pick passes and rip through opponents, we’ll do exactly that. Ipswich deserve a lot of credit for their intensity throughout the game. Our creative players never got more than a split second on the ball, which explains why we gave the ball away a lot more than we have in recent matches. Ipswich don’t deserve any credit for basically kicking us up a height. Every time a Sunderland player got the ball with their back to goal, an Ipswich player went through the back of them and another pathetic League One referee did absolutely nothing to stop it (shock).

Aiden O’Brien as an impact sub? I’ve defended O’Brien in the past. He works his socks off and you can’t fault his attitude. But against Ipswich, he came on for the last five minutes and gave the ball away three or four times in promising positions. Not only did he not look like scoring or creating anything for us, but his failure to hold onto the ball also led to some dangerous counter attacks for Ipswich. It might sound harsh to write off a player after a poor five minute sub appearance but I’ve never been convinced O’Brien is the player we need on the bench. We desperately need to bring in a centre-forward option (or two) in the January window because, as things stand, we’re far too reliant on Broadhead and Stewart to lead the line.


Pause for thought


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