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2 Up, 2 Down: The good, the bad and the Grayson from Sunderland’s win over Fleetwood Town!

A comfortable evening for Sunderland as we once again discuss the good and the bad after picking all three points at home to Fleetwood Town!

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

Philip West says...

Two Up!

Game management...

This was a victory built on grit and resilience rather than dazzling football. Our first-half performance was reasonably forgettable, and it took us until midway through the second half to break the deadlock.

With the prospect of a nervy finish with only a 1-0 lead, I liked the way we managed the game and ensured that calmness & composure prevailed, rather than panic.

If we are to mount a late-season promotion push, we will have to show these qualities in the games to come, and it's encouraging to see that, if needs be, we can maintain our discipline and close games out when the scoreline is less than comprehensive.

Makeshift partnership...

Dion Sanderson & Luke O’Nien both played extremely well, but in different ways. Sanderson, yet again, looked a class apart in defence, with a superb mix of athleticism, composure on the ball, and positional awareness that.

O’Nien on the other hand, showed his astonishing versatility by filling in alongside the Wolves loanee, and he looked completely & utterly at ease. Moving O’Nien into defence felt like something of a ‘quick fix’ when Lee Johnson first did it, but it is becoming clear that the club’s resident jack-of-all-trades player is more than capable of doing a job there when required.

He should be offered a new contract without delay, because players with O’Nien’s mix of willing attitude and on-pitch ability are a genuine asset to us at this moment in time.

Burton Albion v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Luke O’Nien
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Two Down!

Flat first-half...

Our first half performance felt flat and reasonably listless. Perhaps this was understandable, given our recent exertions in both league and cup, but our Aiden McGeady-inspired attacking game wasn’t quite in full bloom, as Fleetwood tried to make it as awkward for us as they possibly could.

We lacked our usual verve in possession and Charlie Wyke had one of his quieter games. Simon Grayson would’ve doubtless loved to have nabbed a point from us, and until we clicked into gear in the second half, the possibility of dropping home points was certainly possible.

Consistency from Gooch...

Lynden Gooch remains something of an enigma. At times, he can be extremely effective as an attacking weapon, but he also has a habit of running down dead ends when in promising positions, and his final ball undoubtedly could be better.

Against Fleetwood, he turned in another performance of ups and downs, with some neat flashes of skill, including a rather interesting no-look pass (eat your heart out, Thierry Henry), but he was often wasteful in possession and didn’t spot key passes when they were on.

The Californian is definitely an asset to the team when on form, but he really needs to put together a series of better performances in the weeks ahead.

Burton Albion v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Lynden Gooch
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Malcolm Dugdale says...

Two Up!

Winning ugly...

Even when not playing our best we showed we can win 2-0 against teams who don’t even register a shot on goal. This is what makes the difference between going up and not, as more draws will be wins, and losses will at least be draws.

The guts of the team are back and grinding out a win is way more pleasant to the eye too.

Sharing the goals...

Wykes record is great, but many fans worried about where goals may come from when he has a dip. In the last couple of games we have added goals from Leadbitter, Gooch, O’Brien and Power to ease that concern.

We need Charlie to carry on his work but others chipping in cannot do anything but help.

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

Two Down!

Game of two halves...

The clinical attacking element of our play was missing in the first half and if we had that we could have closed out the game by the break.

Most of the players were guilty, and they stepped up to take a win eventually but that quality in the final third needs work as we might not meet many more sides who roll over for us like Fleetwood.

Bored Burge...

Burge forgot his sandwiches and newspaper, which was a real shame. He could have sat by the post and FaceTimed his mam with the work he had to do.

Hopefully this will be the same on Saturday, and he may remember to take along a jigsaw puzzle or maybe sudoku. Well played our back three, you made our goalie redundant and bored, long may that continue.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Papa John’s Trophy
Lee Burge
Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says...

Two Up!

Putting a run together...

Another win and a clean sheet, with clear signs that we’re finally starting to put a run together in the league.

The opening goal was a long time coming despite dominating and it was a relief to seal the win from a position where previously we might well have frustratingly had to settle for a draw.


On a night when Charlie Wyke didn’t score, Aiden O’Brien and Max Power got in on the act. Goals need to come from all departments, and it was good to see others taking their chances, especially Power heading home from a training ground move.

Sunderland v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One
Aiden O’Brien scoring Sunderland’s opener against Fleetwood
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Two Down!

Slow burner...

While we dominated the game, we were slow in our build up at times and the final ball wasn’t always up to scratch. We should have been well out of sight long before Power got that much-needed second goal.

Cautious subs...

Lee Johnson was planning two attacking substitutions just before we opened the scoring on the hour mark. Unfortunately for Chris Maguire and Jordan Jones, they were called back to the bench.

Although they were later introduced, I’d have rather gone for the kill instead of bringing on Carl Winchester. We were far too dominant to be making cautious substitutions and protecting a one goal lead.

Gary Engel says...

Two Up!

Case for the defence...

Another win, in a smart and professional display. Fleetwood didn’t really trouble our back four too often. But still we saw a growing confidence from young Dion Sanderson and makeshift center-half Luke O’Nien.

O’Nien is proving his worth with every passing game no matter what position he finds himself.


When we were struggling for that little bit of quality in the final third, who else could provide a moment to help break the deadlock, but good old McGeady! We had hardly seen a decent cross all night before McGeady created a little space to chip a ball in for O’Brien to head home.

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

Two Down!

Quiet Wyke...

It was a very quiet night for Charlie Wyke. Given what he has done in recent weeks in front of goal he certainly won’t get any criticism. The only concern may be how the big Fleetwood central defender shackled Wyke throughout the match.

First half...

We didn’t get out of the blocks particularly quickly tonight. Although midfield was controlled by us, the first-half passed us by without any real sense of urgency to gain the lead.

That didn’t matter tonight, but we’ve seen too often over the last 3-4 years how sides we should be beating with ease at the Stadium of Light have come for a smash and grab following an early goal and frustrating the life out of all of us. We need to be wary not to fall into that trap.

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