Andrew Smithson says...
Local produce. The best we can do after that is put it behind us quickly and not let it happen again, but on a night of few positives, it was at least some comfort to see so many Academy of Light graduates involved. If this club is going to turn itself around long term it will need to make the most of resources like the academy.
Fight fight fight for Sunderland... We’ve seen plenty of shocking home defeats over the years, when some players have simply given up. At least this time I couldn’t fault the effort, and it was obvious from the bust-up at the end that the players and staff give a toss if nothing else.
Pitch imperfect. It was obvious from pretty much the get-go that something wasn't clicking, and a clunky performance was not helped by what looked like a claggy surface. There was a patch of standing water near the centre circle and it felt like players were getting the ball stuck under their feet all the time in the first half. I’m not sure what caused it, but it didn't help us get into any sort of rhythm.
Head loss. It is often said that when things are good at Sunderland they are very good, and when they are bad they are very bad. That certainly seems to be the case based on recent performances and as soon as things started going wrong in this one you could feel the nerves creeping in both on and off the pitch, and before you knew it everybody was losing their heads. I know we are desperate to get out of this division and I know it was horrible to watch, but when some players start making poor decisions and some fans start getting wound up we just need to take a moment to calm down, be a bit wiser and then see if we can play ourselves out of it. We might not suddenly turn into world beaters but at least we’ll have a chance of getting something out of the game.
We know that visiting teams coming up here and acting themselves will feed off any negativity they sense, and because it then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy we need to break this cycle. Yes, some of Lincoln’s players were working their tickets and yes, some of our players had off days but really, throwing objects onto the pitch and calling our own team all the names under the sun like some people were did absolutely nothing for us. The players and management have produced some excellent football this season and I hope that is not forgotten in the aftermath of all this, because that is when it all snowballs and a blip turns into a crisis.
Joseph Tulip says...
We improved as the game wore on. This was definitely one of those nights where nothing went our way, but there were spells in the second half where we dominated even with 10 men. Had a second goal-line clearance in as many games not denied Ross Stewart, we would have been back in the game at 2-2. Instead, we let Lincoln in on the counter attack shortly afterwards and it was game over. But we can take heart from the way we fought our way back into the contest on a night when we were below par.
We do have a plan B. Again, it wasn’t our night but when our passing game didn’t get going on our worryingly poor pitch, Lee Johnson introduced a more direct approach, with Aidan O’Brien brought on to add aerial strength alongside Stewart.
Lincoln’s game plan kept us at bay. The first half was a flashback to the Phil Parkinson era, with Lincoln sitting deep and allowing us to dictate the play. However, we were pedestrian and laboured, struggling to stretch our opponents. They were happy to kick us and unsettle us, taking advantage of an opening goal against the run of play.
Bare bones are wearing thinner. Much can be said about the pitch and it hampering our ability to play our passing game, but the imminent loss of Carl Winchester to suspension means we’re struggling to field 11 senior players at Accrington on Saturday. Denver Hume could play a more advanced role on the left, with Jack Diamond playing ahead of Lynden Gooch on the right. We need sidelined players to return as quickly as possible, but we must ensure we don’t make any panic signings in the transfer window.
Ross Stewart is still mint. Aye, his penalty was crap, but at least he stuck the ball in the net... That wasn’t why I thought he deserved a mention, though. Even when the rest of the team are poor, Ross doesn’t hide and he puts himself about. I thought he was very good and had we actually created him some chances, I have no doubt he might have made the Lincoln keeper work harder than he did. He’s a top player and I just hope he can carry on scoring goals over the coming weeks, because we’re going to need him.
Callum Doyle. It probably sounds a bit mad to give a defender credit when we’ve conceded three goals, but I thought he gave a very mature performance. He stepped into midfield with the ball and carried it forward at pace when we went a man down; he batted away the ball and shirked nothing; and whilst he was probably lucky not to get sent off near the end, it was nice to see him sticking up for himself when the Lincoln players thought that they could shove him around.
The defence... All three of their goals were crap from our perspective. That’s now six goals conceded in two games, and it’s no coincidence that we’ve been missing Thorben Hoffmann. Not that I’m blaming Patterson, but I think the change has upset the balance of the team and we need the big German fella back as soon as possible. Tom Flanagan was rancid and reminded me that we still need to replace him sooner rather than later, whilst the lack of Carl Winchester for the next three games means we have to give Trai Hume a chance sooner rather than later. We missed the defensive protection of Evans in midfield too, which again highlights the lack of solid options in that position.
Lynden Gooch. I’m not a big fan of picking players out individually for criticism, but he was as bad as Flanagan. I know he’s not a right-back and is only filling in, but it’s really obvious to see where we’re lacking at present. As a utility player filling in he’s fine, but as a regular starter he’s just not good enough anymore, either offensively or defensively.