We still created good chances
On another day we win that game, but Blackpool’s keeper pulled off two of the best saves I’ve seen this season to deny Jack Clarke - it just wasn’t our day.
We had 15 shots in total, but only four were on goal - although Embleton’s strike that hit the top of the bar counts as off target - and I thought generally we did a decent job of getting down the sides and creating opportunities.
I’d be more worried if we weren’t doing that, so I’m content.
Alese - AGAIN!
I can’t say enough good things about Aji Alese - he is quality.
I don’t think I’ve seen anyone get the better of him since he came into the side - one v one he’s magnificent, and he always seems to be in the right place to block shots or head them away.
I feel sorry for Dennis Cirkin, because barring an injury to the big man I don’t see a way back into the side. He’s consistently excellent. What a find he was by our recruitment team in the summer.
Goochy was poor in possession
I read a piece in the Chronicle before the game with Tony Mowbray where he discussed Trai Hume’s frustration at not being able to get into the side, and I think on the basis of Lynden Gooch’s performance against Blackpool he should be seriously considering the Northern Irishman for a start at Swansea at the weekend.
His passing in particular was horrendous and it puts us under pressure far too many times - on Saturday he forced Patrick Roberts to make a foul that earned him a yellow card, and on Tuesday night absolutely nothing came off for him.
He’s a warrior, and I love his attitude, but I’m sensing another one of those spells from him where he just can’t get going.
Crowd patience wore thin
I get that everyone was frustrated that we weren’t winning the game, but some of the reaction inside the stadium to the lads retaining possession was embarrassing. It was like going back twenty years.
What do you expect them to do with the ball? Lump it forward to a 5ft5 winger?
Our style of play has been excellent this season, and some people would do well to remember that.
Andrew Smithson says...
I think I saw at the weekend that Sunderland had picked up more cards than anybody else in the Championship. A lot of them have been harsh I think, but there certainly seemed to be a bit of an effort against both Preston North End and Blackpool to not dive in unless necessary. We’ve still competed of course, but there were one or two moments when the Lads seemed to have tightened up in that regard and were thinking before going to ground.
Build from the back
We really had to work hard in the second half to protect the clean sheet and at times the defence really dug in. The greasy conditions didn't help, but Anthony Patterson was very impressive and so too were those in front of him both on set pieces and in open play. Aji Alese looks superb right now and if we are going to remain hard to score past we’ll always have a chance of getting something from games.
Pull the trigger
I don't want to be too critical when we don't have any natural strikers on the pitch, but there were one or two moments where I’d have liked to see the team having a go at goal - even if it was just a quick pot shot. Our passing stats are some of the best in the division and you can see why - we move the ball well and try and work openings where we can, but it is not always possible to walk the ball into the net or have the perfect sight of the target so there is no harm I don’t think in just trying your luck from time to time.
Mind your language
I’ve probably said this before, but some of the language you hear in the family zone is really disappointing. I get that people are frustrated or whatever and might say the odd thing in the heat of the moment, but it is constant from some individuals and in most cases utterly needless. Even when reminded that they are surrounded by kids they still continue, and why they even want to be in that part of the ground heaven only knows. It was particularly noticeable tonight I think because a lot of it wasn’t just foul-mouthed, but it made little sense either. Calling players ‘useless c***s’ for not hoofing the ball for example, when all it would do is mean it comes back in our direction seconds later, just seems wrong on several levels.
In general, the crowd is sticking with the side and can see the sense in us trying to step out or play through the thirds in the current circumstances, but whether you agree with the tactics or not you need to respect those sitting nearest you. Different people want different experiences of going to the match and the Stadium of Light is big enough for that to be able to happen - if you want to boot off and swear all the time please go to another area and let the kids enjoy the game in a suitable environment.
Martin Wanless says...
That first half display
For the majority of the opening period, I thought we were excellent in and out of possession – we took the game to Blackpool, caused them a host of problems, and in reality should have been two or three up. We dominated completely, and were a joy to watch.
Built on a solid defence
A back four of Gooch, O’Nien, Batth and Alese wouldn’t have been everyone’s (anyone’s!) first choice at the start of the season, but they’ve looked solid over recent weeks. O’Nien was excellent once again, Batth solid and Alese is class. Gooch is the one you’d have question marks over - he’s looked dodgy in the past couple of games – but the other three have been brilliant.
Lack of goal threat
An obvious one, maybe, but we simply didn’t test the keeper enough. I think if we had a ‘proper’ striker on the field we win that easily, but regardless, we didn’t get shots away quick enough or with any regularity. I can only really remember Maxwell making two saves, both from Jack Clarke. Without Stewart, the attacking players need to test the opposition keeper a lot more.
Another week, another inept referee. They slowed the game down in the first half, held an impromptu team talk for ten minutes and he only added two minutes on. Then ‘that’ advantage – or non-advantage. Haway man. It’s simple stuff, and they’re not getting it right.