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Peterborough United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One - Weston Homes Stadium

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2 Up, 2 Down: What positives & negatives can we extract from Sunderland’s latest showing?

We discuss all the ups and downs from Sunderland’s latest outing - what positives and negatives can you extract from the performance?

Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images

Philip West says...

Two Up!

A good point...

OK, it wasn’t the three points that would’ve made a real statement and really cranked up the pressure in the race for promotion, but all things considered, this was by no means a poor result.

Having been second best for the majority of the second half and fallen behind to a well-worked Peterborough goal, that familiar feeling of doom was in danger of striking, before Aiden McGeady (more on him later) salvaged a draw late in the game.

Six points from the Easter double-header would’ve been superb, but four is a very decent return. OK, our margin for error in the remaining games may have narrowed slightly, but promotion is still very much in our hands.

That man again...

With every pinpoint cross, accurate through-ball, and in this case, inch-perfect free kick, McGeady continues to prove his former doubters (me included) wrong, and that he is a genuine asset to the team.

When we were awarded a late free-kick within his striking range, you felt that it was a ‘now or never’ moment, and McGeady delivered, curling a sumptuous strike into the Posh goal, and pulling us out of the mire.

Clearly, Lee Johnson has been able to get McGeady right back onside, and he is easily one of the first names on the team sheet now, which represents another incredible turnaround in fortune, especially after the Phil Parkinson debacle.

Peterborough United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
McGeady does his thing to win us a point
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Two Down!

Failure to take advantage...

For the majority of first half, we looked reasonably comfortable, particularly in midfield, with Leadbitter and Winchester afforded time and space to keep things ticking over, and Jordan Jones looking to make things happen whenever he got on the ball.

The problem was that we failed to make the most of it, and were largely restricted to half-chances. You felt that scoring early would have changed the dynamic of the game and really enabled us to kick on and ratchet up the pressure.

As it was, we just couldn’t find that breakthrough. In recent games, we have often had to grind out results, but it would be a real boost if we could combine positive early play with lethal finishing, especially given how tough our run-in appears to be.

Time for the Scot to settle...

Given his relative lack of game time since signing for the club, perhaps it is inevitable that he isn’t yet fully up to speed with the rigours of League One football, and hopefully time will change that.

Selected as part of an old-school 4-4-2 formation alongside Charlie Wyke, the big Scot endured a frustrating afternoon against Peterborough. He wasn’t able to use his physical presence to any great effect, and he didn’t really have a sniff of goal, either.

He did show some flashes in the second half, but this was a largely forgettable afternoon for him. If we revert to a playing with a single striker, it is likely that Stewart will have to settle for a role on the bench.

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

Martin Wanless says...

Two Up!

Brave decisions...

Lee Johnson’s never been afraid to try things, both in terms of team selection and tactics, since his appointment as head coach.

While his ambitious initial team selection and game plan worked to an extent in the first half, we didn’t look like scoring, and in the second half we struggled to cope with Peterborough for large spells.

That was, until the quadruple substitution with 20 minutes remaining. OK, I’d have preferred it five or ten minutes earlier, but Johnson took the gamble, and it paid off – Scowen and Gooch, in particular, helped us regain control of the game.

He’s not afraid to throw the dice, and his positive attitude could make all the difference in games to come.

Return of Hume...

Another one of the four subs was Denver Hume, who’s been sorely missed over the past few months. It was the first time he’d played for Johnson, and it was a relief to see how comfortably he slotted back into the team.

For the past few months we’ve had no option but to play McFadzean, and he’s continually been the team’s weak link. While Hume has played his best football for Sunderland as a left wing back, he’s a few – significant – notches ahead of McFadzean, and could have a hugely important part to play in the run in.

Bristol Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One - Memorial Stadium
Callum McFadzean
Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

Two Down!

Another off day for Wyke...

It was a game that needed a big performance from Charlie Wyke, and he didn’t deliver. He’s gone off the boil a little over the past few weeks, and he wasn’t helped yesterday with the formation deployed by Lee Johnson.

Partnered with Ross Stewart – who also struggled to make an impact – Wyke spent more time than he’d like running the channels and playing out wide. He needs Aiden O’Brien, who has been on the bench since his goal at Bristol Rovers. I’d expect to see the former Millwall forward back in the first XI on Saturday – Wyke’s half the player without him.

Reaction to a point...

Relax! Yes, it would have been ideal to win, Hull to drop points and see Sunderland sail to the top – but it’s rarely that easy. A draw was a good result for us, not so good for Peterborough, and it’s still all in our own hands.

Before the two Easter games I thought four points would be a good outcome, and I still think that’s the case. The championship, never mind promotion, is still in our own hands, and we’re firmly in a three horse race.

In January, that prospect seemed a near impossibility. So let’s regroup, and focus on Saturday. There’ll be lots of twists and turns to come yet, and we can’t panic when we encounter them. We’re all desperate to get out of this league, understandably so, but let’s keep that ice in our heads!

Peterborough United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One - Weston Homes Stadium
Charlie Wyke
Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images

Malcolm Dugdale says...

Two Up!

Still in our hands...

We successfully took the four points from the two Easter weekend games that we needed and which most of our fans would have accepted on Good Friday morning without much thought.

We have kept pace with Posh but lost a little ground on Hull, though we can still overtake them both with the games in hand. All we need to do is continue our strong points hauls from the remaining eight games and by accumulating more points than either Hull or Peterborough, we are up. It is still very much in our hands to get promoted.

Return of the loan star...

The return of Jones this last couple of games has added a chunk of attacking flair to our toolset, and with the return of Hume too, we should hopefully begin to see more effective attacking play from both sides of the pitch to add to our wider threat and goal options.

The return of Wright means we can keep the clean sheets required, and could potentially result in Luke O’Nien being deployed further up the pitch. With a bit of luck, the results should more or less look after themselves.

Peterborough United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One - Weston Homes Stadium
Jordan Jones
Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images

Two Down!

History repeating itself...

I sadly have to resume the past script regarding the performance of McFadzean against Peterborough.

While he put some decent tackles and passes in, and his cross just after the half hour mark showed he is capable of whipping a ball in for our attackers, in the second half he was a liability we cannot tolerate any longer.

He was easily skinned just before the opening goal, and we were lucky to get away with that one, so it was maybe inevitable that he was partly at fault (along with Max Power in my opinion) when the Posh took the lead.

He has to now be banished to the bench, or even further if Vokins is a fit option behind Hume. Good luck with your career outside our team Callum, but you ain’t good enough son, and certainly won’t be if we go up.

Mixed decisions...

I was a little disappointed at the selection and formation choices made for the game. I expected to be complaining about Grant being picked in the middle but he was immense, especially in the first half.

Putting Stewart up front with Wyke was a ballsy move for a crappy pitch, but it didn’t come off, nor did using Power at right back. Hopefully McLaughlin is approaching full fitness now and he can release Power to be considered for other positions.

I think O’Brien may have made the difference in the first half too if he had started (assuming he was fit) simply due to his extra experience working the front lines with Wyke.

That said, the coach’s subs won us the free kick that got us the goal and the point, so little harm done, but hopefully lots learned for the eight cup finals to come.

Peterborough United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One - Weston Homes Stadium
Ross Stewart
Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images


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