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Plymouth Argyle v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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2 Up, 2 Down: The good and the bad from Sunderland’s late show at Plymouth

What were the positives and negatives from Sunderland’s victory at Plymouth on Saturday?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says...

Two Up!

A start for Stewart at centre forward and an impressive start at that. Stewart won a good percentage of headers and generally guided these towards team mates. He played well with his back to goal, generally controlling the ball and laying it off effectively. We saw some of his movement and pace that caught the eye over the border too. He took his goal very well and up until his withdrawal was a right handful all afternoon.

The return to winning ways and three points was very welcome. We were the better team throughout and created some good opportunities as we moved the ball about at pace. I was even more delighted to see us pressing the game right up the pitch and for the whole of the 90 minutes. We look an effective team when we do this, so let's keep the press going.

Two down!

Jack Diamond is going to be a very good offensive player if he is allowed to develop. The hammering he is taking from some of our fans on social media beggars belief. Over the 55 years I have supported Sunderland, this trait of really hammering one of our own young players has been evident.

Yet most supporters will tell you that young players need a chance to grow and develop their game. They need to make mistakes and learn from these. He did some good things in the game yesterday as well as making a wrong decision or three.

His decision to try and lay the ball off rather than shoot as he burst into the 6-yard box in the first half, looked to me like he did not want the responsibility of shooting and failing. Come on folks he is “one of our own”, let's get behind him and allow him time to blossom, with Sunderland.

Let's hope McLaughlin’s non-emergence for the second half was precautionary. He put a very canny first half in both defensively and offensively. He releases Power to the midfield as well as giving us another option in the centre of defence. Fingers crossed.

We played well in spells in this game and got another look at Gooch in the ‘10’ role. He was my man of the match, closely followed by Stewart. Ha’way my Bonny Lads we can do this!

Plymouth Argyle v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Ross Stewart celebrating doing his thing...
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Reece Davies says...

Two Up!

We’re over the line with a much-needed win. It wasn’t pretty but a win’s a win. After the run we have been on, that was the only target, a win and cementing the playoffs. Now we can prepare ourselves in the best way possible and give some of our key players a rest. Maybe a couple of days off training for the likes of Bailey Wright, will help recovery and ensure they are ready to go in the play-offs.

Prior to the Blackpool game I spoke with a couple of RR lads and urged for Johnson to play Maguire behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1. My argument being that Maguire is a match-winner, he can influence the moods and behaviour of the opposition with his shithousery, and he would clearly have the motivation to prove LJ wrong.

Look at his reaction to scoring the penalty yesterday and try to tell me that this man is not ready to go. Knowing LJ, Maguire will be restricted to coming off the bench over the course of the next 4 games. He has to play some part in it for me. He brings the motivation Max Power brings but with clear attacking threat thrown into the mix, and I just hope his mini exile has come to an end.

Two down!

Are we ever going to blow anyone away? As a Sunderland fan it’s hard enough being out of those top two places all season but why do we have to make games hard? Why can we not learn from mistakes, as we continue to make poor decisions at key times?

Even through our good spell, we can never seem to go and win convincingly. We never dominate a full game and go and win 3, 4 or 5-0. Yes, we have won games well this season but I can probably count a handful of games where the performance and result look dominant. Obviously at the business end of the season, the results are the only thing that matter but I just feel that teams necessarily don’t fear us as they perhaps should and that comes from us always giving the opposition hope in games.

They know we have mistakes in us and too many times we’ve played into the hands of teams. There will be changes but I just hope we take off the shackles and put Northampton to the sword on the final day, make a real statement heading into the play-offs.

McLaughlin’s departure at half time. Hopefully, he came off before there was any lasting damage. Having as many defenders in that back line as possible, is a key point moving forward. Freeing up Power to move to midfield is also an added bonus of McLaughlin being back. The back line that started is the strongest we have left to field, so I hope that we’re able to get everyone up to speed and fit for some of the most important games in our recent history.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One
Hopefully Conor McLaughlin will be fully fit for the play-offs
Photo by Andrew Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Mark Wood says...

Two Up!

The performance of Ross Stewart. He scored, could have had another, had a strong shout to win a penalty and overall was a complete pain in the Argyle throughout. Charlie Wyke has had a fantastic goal-scoring season, but it's when a proper centre forward starts for us, such as Stewart or even when you think of some of the cameos from Kyle Lafferty last season that you notice a difference.

Stewart held the ball up, laid it off and won it in the air throughout the game to show something that is often missing from our build up play.

We broke our winless run and cemented a place in the play-offs. When Plymouth equalised there was a feeling that it could be yet another one of those days where Sunderland went ahead played well and then let the game be taken from them.

The sending off changed the dynamic of the game with Sunderland smelling blood and going for the jugular from that point. If Lee Johnson is indeed ‘streaky’ then we might hope that after our winless streak this could be the launch of a winning unbeaten streak until our final game of the season, which... would see us promoted.

Two down!

For a game we were largely in control of it was a disappointment that as soon as Plymouth put us under any sustained pressure we couldn’t cope with it. Although Denver Hume has definitely offered brought an immediate upgrade at left back since his return to the side, we are not seeing the watertight centre defence from the Wright/O’Nien partnership as we did from the Sanderson/O’Nien pairing. A good team which we will meet in the play-offs will ask more questions.

McGeady is out injured, Wyke is out injured, Sanderson is out for the end of the season, Willis has been missing since early in the New Year, and McLaughlin came off at half time - though we are told it was agreed beforehand.

With running a patched-up defence without key players for so long you have to say we have done well to be in the play-offs at this point, but we are staggering up to the line. At least Jones and Stewart showed that they are able threats in the absence of McGeady and Wyke but you have to hope we don’t lose anyone else in the remaining games.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One
Charlie Wyke was missing at Plymouth on Saturday
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

Two Up!

After seven matches without a win we have finally managed to get back on the winning trail. Lee Johnson likes to analyse our stats, certainly by the number of shots and chances created it was an improvement upon recent performances.

Stewart’s impressive performance has already been covered by the other lads. So, I’ll look at his strike partner, Gooch. With their combination, there was quite a contrast from what we have seen in recent months.

Two players moving the Plymouth defence around, rather than Wyke who is more rigid in his movement and stays strictly up-top waiting for the ball. Gooch’s first-half performance, movement and general play reminded us what he can do.

Unfortunately, Gooch’s best only appears in fits and starts. But I have noticed, for whatever reason, many of his best performances have coincided with McGeady’s absences.

Two down!

We always say, a win’s a win... but if you notice our last two wins have come against sides who have been reduced to ten men. It is much the same story as early in the season under Parkinson. But as I pointed out above, the stats suggest a much better performance where we should have scored more earlier in the match.

Another game and no clean sheet - heading into the play-offs it is a concern. In play-off matches, the margins for error can be tiny but repercussions huge, so we’re going to have to adapt quickly and become clinical if we’re to stand a chance.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One
Lynden Gooch was impressive for Sunderland in the absence of Aiden McGeady
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


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