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Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light

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2 Up, 2 Down: The good, the bad and the nervy as Sunderland can only draw against Lincoln!

Our panel once again look at the positives and negatives we can take from our last fixture - in this case a tight draw at the Stadium of Light to promotion rivals Lincoln City.

Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images


Kelvin Beattie says...

Two Up!

No ground lost...

We maintained our unbeaten run and lost no ground on the teams above us, with what seemed at times a bit of a disjointed performance, acknowledging a very lively and fast breaking Lincoln.

With Winchester and Stewart getting good game time, our squad flexes its considerable League One capacity.

Lee Burge...

The form of Lee Burge caught the eye again today. He made two very good saves and one excellent save and continues his good form at just the right time for us.

Along with the centre of our defence he is part of a formidable rearguard that could yet see us in to the Championship.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One
Lee Burge
Photo by Andrew Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Two Down!

Charlie Wyke...

It is difficult not to feel we missed an opportunity to jump ahead of Peterborough. I felt we were a tad laboured in our build up play and Charlie Wyke I am sure would acknowledge a bad day at the office, as nothing stuck, lay off’s went astray and fouls in Lincoln’s last third of the field were conceded by him.

He of course has earned a bit of wriggle room this season, but the sooner he returns to form the better for our chances of automatic promotion.

Referee...

Jumping Jesus what on earth was the referee on today!? His calamitous performance started in the 5th minute when he missed a blatant tug on Winchester as he was about to go one on one with the keeper.

Between the linesman and himself I was astounded no decision was awarded, did they both “double blink” at the same time? His overly fussy manner at dead ball situations and the award / lack of award of free kicks was mystifying throughout the game.

His view of the McGeady incident was not good and I tend to agree with Danny Collins who said on his commentary that the ref guessed the ball had hit McGeady’s arm. One of the joys of maybe going up will be to hopefully get away from some very average refereeing.

Well played Lee Burge, lets hope a week off recharges the batteries of the squad, as we get into the tail end of the season.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One
Charlie Wyke
Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Mark Wood says...

Two Up!

Good point...

A point gained or two points lost? A point gained in my view as Lincoln proved to be our most difficult opponents in the league in weeks. After they equalised, while we were not exactly against the ropes Sunderland were creaking somewhat and without an excellent reaction stop from Lee Burge Lincoln would have gone ahead.

A difficult game against one of our main rivals in which big questions were asked of our team, so to come out with a deserved point isn’t a disappointment.

Our loan man at the back...

Apart from Lee Burge making some big saves to keep us in the game, I thought that Dion Sanderson was excellent again in front of him today.

Today was the first real time that Luke O’Nien was exposed as a stand in centre half but Sanderson was the man holding together our defence alongside him. Making important interceptions and last ditch tackles, just where would we have been over the last couple of months while our first choice centre backs have been injured?

Cool and composed, he looks so classy on the ball you can imagine him playing in a bow tie and dinner jacket with a cigar in his hand. Its doubtful we could sign him, but if he did he would be a player that would go all the way back to the Premier League with us.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Dion Sanderson
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Two Down!

Officials...

After ten minutes I came to the conclusion that referee Carl Boyeson was somewhat of a d*ck.

In that time had stopped the game and given a headmasters telling off to Lee Johnson and walked over to inspect that Lincoln were placing that ball in the correct spot for a corner. He followed that up by correcting Aiden McGeady’s accuracy in placing the ball in the exact spot for another corner.

It was the biggest source of amusement that as he stomped away to deliver a lecture to the players about to receive the above mentioned corner with the refs back turned, McGeady moved the ball the four inches back to where it was originally.

Nobody in the ground, not the Lincoln players or staff, not even his own assistants were remotely interested in ‘grassing up’ McGeady to the petty minded ‘Sir’. Probably because they all shared the same view of him.

Picking it up a gear...

For the last three games we have not really played that well but none the less have picked up seven points. On top of that while we had a complete performance against Portsmouth, our opponents that night were very poor - teams from the bottom who we have faced have played better than they did that night.

If we want to continue to pick up the points we will need to guarantee promotion as is our ambition in the remaining games of the season, then we will need to pick up our game against some tricky opponents.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Lee Johnson traded words with the officials early on as Sunderland were held to a draw at home to Lincoln City
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Malcolm Dugdale says...

Two Up!

Avoiding defeat...

We didn’t lose a game which was in my view the closest we came to that since the recovery from 2-0 down at Crewe, in that case to salvage a point.

That coupled with the other teams around us not taking advantage means we have one less game to secure the top two and stay there, but we haven’t lost ground, thankfully.

Sharing the joy...

We saw another person chipping in with goals when the regulars didn’t have their best day at the office. Callum McFadzean called for the cross and Max Power provided it right on the money, and you need your wider squad to chip in at times.

I’m chuffed for McFadzean as he has had some tough criticism, rightly so most of the time. The more options we have for scoring when our main strikers have a dry spell, the better.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Callum McFadzean scored his first goal for Sunderland in League One on Saturday
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Two Down!

A case for the defence...

The defence looked shaky for the first time in some weeks and we let in a goal as a result of pressure on that shaky setup. I’m worried people are slowly starting to work out how to attack our makeshift back line more with each game and the return of Bailey Wright, Denver Hume and Tom Flanagan are more key now than ever.

That said, the way the ref performed, who knows if we would have taken all three points even with our strongest defence all there..

We could be ten points clear...

I really think the coach got that one a little bit wrong, with the caveat that it was the first time in some time.

His selection of personnel and tactics didn’t help us in my view - we beat Lincoln mainly with breakaway goals at their place, yet we left Diamond on the bench. We also had Grant Leadbitter in instead of more agile and rapid options, whilst playing Winchester out of position without needing to.

He can’t get every game totally right but I think this was a dip for him and the team, and we need to learn from all aspects. We desperately need Jones back, his directness would have made a huge difference and we didn’t get that from those who made the XI.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Grant Leadbitter
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

Two Up!

As they were...

The number of games was plain to see in the legs late on in the game. So, I’m pleased we have come through the Lincoln test and find ourselves in the same position after the match as before.

Many will look at it as an opportunity lost, I can see why. But then, I’ve not seen the top six all draw like that before.

Improved performers...

The confidence and feelgood factors keep on growing around the team. Two players who had come in for criticism in recent months - Burge and McFadzean - are both showing massive improvement.

When the first-half was crying out for a fullback to attack down the left, McFadzean certainly delivered, causing all sorts of problems for the Lincoln defence before nipping in for his first goal.

While Burge saved our skins on more than one occasion in the second-half with some outstanding saves as Lincoln raised their game. It shows how far we have come when our weakest links are improving to play their part.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One
Aiden McGeady shows his thoughts on a referees decision at the weekend
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Two Down!

Yet another League One ref...

I mentioned this after the last game - another League One referee, another questionable performance, to say the least.

In a game of few clear cut chances for Sunderland it appears odd how we were virtually through on goal twice, but for the pull on Winchester’s shirt and the ‘handball’ given against McGeady, could have proved telling only for both referee decisions to go Lincoln’s way... yeah, thanks ref.

Support for the striker...

As stated above, Johnson’s impact has been all positive, certainly since the turn of the year. One thing he hasn’t had to-date, is the luxury of a full squad to choose from but in the absence of O’Brien we seem to be struggling for someone to genuinely fill in alongside Wyke.

A fully fit squad of players would certainly be a nice dilemma to finally have, but I wonder if at that point Johnson will know his best eleven.



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