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Luton Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Talking Points: Sunderland must stop this habit of conceding around half time

In a match where focus towards the end of the first half could have been the difference between one point and three, Sunderland have plenty of reasons for frustration and satisfaction this weekend.

Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Sunderland must stop conceding around half time

In each of the last five games, Sunderland have conceded in the five minutes around half time. Clearly this is far from ideal.

Given our positive performance in the majority of the first period, the goal just before the break will have changed Mowbray’s team talk from telling the team this game was there for them to win, to one of encouragement to get back into it.

There’s no doubt that Sunderland could have gone in ahead, but if chances aren’t taken, there is an added responsibility to keep it tight at the other end – and the team didn’t do that.

It’s an unfortunate habit to have developed, and if we want to start converting some of our draws into wins, it will have to stop.

Luton Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Morris’s goal in first half injury time – the fifth successive game we’ve conceded around half time
Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Young squad show resilience

However, there’s no doubt a test of character is required if you got in one down at one of the stronger sides in the division.

Happily, the lads showed that in their second-half performance, preventing Luton from extending their lead before striking – and were the only team that looked like they would go on to win it.

They kept cool heads, and even though they had to wait for the leveller, they did not panic.

For players such as Edouard Michut, this will have been an invaluable experience and a crucial confidence builder. The young Frenchman looked like a walking Galaxy chocolate bar when he came on, so with any luck, his influence will grow as the season progresses.

Luton Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Kenilworth Road
Michut impressed in his sub appearance
Photo by Rhianna Chadwick/PA Images via Getty Images

Simms’ return is absolutely crucial

It doesn’t really need to be said, does it?

In the nine games (ish, given he went off at 0-0 v Reading), Sunderland have earned 10 points. Not ideal, by any stretch of the imagination.

Therefore the sight of him on the pitch yesterday was most welcome, probably only to be surpassed by Ross Stewart’s long-awaited return after the World Cup break.

It means Sunderland will have a new focus, will certainly play a different style - and crucially it will give opposition defences something to think about.

He might not have done that much on his reintroduction, but how much did he occupy Luton’s back line during his sub appearance, particularly when allowing Embleton to sweep home 10 minutes from time?

That might be fashioning an argument to fit a particular narrative (the truth is, it was poor marking for our goal), but ultimately a Sunderland side with strikers in is far more potent than one without.

Luton Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Simms’ presence contributed to our equaliser
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Jack Clarke’s suspension is perhaps the biggest negative of the day

Clarke has been the signing of the summer, there’s no doubt about that.

He’s been front and centre when it’s come to so much of Sunderland’s positive play this season. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say there hasn’t been one moment where you could have criticised the lad for anything he has done on the pitch.

It was hardly surprising he was at it again this weekend, teeing up Embleton for his equaliser. Stats show he has completed by far the most dribbles from any EFL player this season, and that has been the cornerstone of his success.

Sadly, he picked up his fifth booking of the season (in the 92nd minute!), meaning he will miss the Huddersfield match in the week. It’s an opportunity for someone else to step up and fill the gap Clarke leaves, but it’s an uncomfortable truth that he will be a huge miss.

Sunderland v Burnley - Sky Bet Championship
Clarke’s been one of our best signings - and he’ll be missed on Wednesday at Huddersfield
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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