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Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Two Up, Two Down: What did you make of the Amad show on Friday night?

Plenty of highs and a few lows in the Lads’ final match before footy decamps to the middle east, but what stood out for our writers?

Aye, canny like
| Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says...

It’s crazy to think less than a week ago I fired out FOUR downs. So to even things up, here’s...

4 ups

Huggins - what a sight to see

After a horrific time with injuries and an untold amount of dark days it was a delight to see Niall Huggins start to put his injury woes behind him with a brilliant performance. Although slightly rusty at times, his quality was there to see and to Nialls credit he got stuck into everything. The 3 points must have been the icing on the cake - da iawn, Niall!

Amad on top

I’ve been critical of Diallo but tonight was what I’ve longed to see from him. Close control, lovely touches, and a sublime top corner finish that ultimately won us the game, Amad finally looked like a £30m player. Hopefully, for his sake and ours, things have clicked for Diallo and that level of performance quickly becomes his standard

Grinder

Too many times this season Sunderland have surrendered great positions and tonight could have been the same if not for some tremendously dogged defending. We know by now in this league how precarious a 2-0 lead can be, so seeing one out especially given the circumstances was a brilliant boost for the lads just before the World Cup break

Right at right back

A performance perhaps under the radar was that of Trai Hume. Another who has found opportunity limited but this outing will have done his arguments for more game time no harm at all. For a player with such limited experience at this level, Hume seemed to fit in exceptionally well. We all know of his potential and talent, with tonight's performance maybe asking the question of Mowbray as to whether Hume deserves more of a chance, especially given the balance and athleticism he gave us on that right-hand side.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
One for the cameras, Amad!
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says...

2 Up

Back to front

We’ve scored some crackers on the road this season. We went from the edge of our own box to in on their goal in the blink of an eye for the second, and the moment Amad hit it you could tell it was in. The first wasn't shabby either, and once again Amad was involved brilliantly.

I honestly think Patrick Roberts, Jack Clarke and a few more could be Premier League quality, and there is so much skill across the board we can tear teams apart from nowhere.

Battlers

Patched up and on a downer after last Saturday, I was really impressed with the fight on show. The Lads got stuck in and put their bodies on the line, but crucially they kept their cool whilst Birmingham City lost a bit of discipline. One or two showed real street smarts, but there was steel there too - there were some ropey moments I know, but you couldn’t fault the bottle for a second.

2 Down

A bit stretched

I know it is just how we play, but we seemed a bit open at times and I’ve been more comfortable if we’d tried to keep hold of the ball for longer and stay more compact.

There were a few too many chances conceded, and whilst the last-ditch stuff got the blood pumping, Anthony Patterson still had to be on top form again. It would have been a real shame to lose another two-goal lead as we were really brave and deserved the points, but the closing minutes were nervy and one or two close calls went our way.

When’s the next game

I’ve got no appetite for the World Cup at all and after another impressive away result the next Sunderland match cannot come fast enough. Practically speaking the rest has come at a good time for us, but I’m loving watching this team grow and will soon get impatient for more.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
A left foot sent from heaven!
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Kelvin Beatie says...

2 up

Full backs on fire!

I don't mind admitting I was concerned about our fullbacks when I saw the team. What do I know, you would have thought they were both regular starters against a rugged City outfit. Huggins and Hume can both play with the ball and like to gallop forwards. Hume has deceptively good ariel ability and I think just needs a run of games. Huggins had his hands full with the lively Bacuna but stuck well to his task. Well played both fullbacks.

Dan Neil boo boys?

I have been particularly unhappy at the tiresome booing of this young lad, but I doubt we will be hearing them tonight.

He played three majestic passes, including the ball that led to Amad’s goal. He put himself about well and was canny with his short ball game all night. Well done Dan.

2 Down

Pritch goals

I was sorry Alex Pritchard did not score tonight. He was well up for the game and put a clever lively shift in tonight.

Bailey blooper!

I like Bailey Wright and will follow his progress in Qatar. Oh dear me, what an error for their goal, which fired them up for the final knockings. He did a lot of solid defensive work , but left us hanging on somewhat with his now characteristic error in any game he plays.

Harsh on a night when the whole team really dug in for the victory.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Job done, Dan!
Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Malcolm Dugdale says...

2 up

A mad finish from Amad

That was probably one of the best performances we have seen from the Man Utd loanee, and his finish for the second was an absolute peach. He has tried a few times in the past to step in onto his left and despatch a shot, and tonight his speed of feet and curled left foot finish were the cherry on the cake of a great run out. I’m sort of disappointed he now has a break, as his contribution has been growing with every game. Hopefully he carries on this vein of form and trend of performance post the World Cup pause.

Big changes at the back, but a solid performance

Apart from the clearance that Wright missed which led to the Birmingham goal, the back line played well today, especially given two of them were changes from the lineup in so many recent games.

Losing both Cirkin and O’Nien at the same time could have been a disaster, and both “Not Denver” Hume and “Huggy Bear” Huggins played very well indeed. Wright will hold his hands up for the mistake and will hopefully come back from Qatar fit and ready if needed, though with Ballard on the way back that may be the error that costs him a berth in the first eleven come December.

2 down

Yellow fever

We had another evening where we drew a lot of yellows from the ref, and we need to get better at managing games and competing in tackles without taking as many cards as we do.

We don’t yet have a squad deep enough to compete well at this level with players being lost due to suspensions for card accumulation time and again - we have already seen a few suspended including young Luke tonight. We held out well in the end and that was a huge three away points against a team who are good at home, but let’s learn how to manage these yellow cards down please..maybe a topic for the beach training in Dubai.

And I can’t think of a second down, so here’s...

A 3rd up.

Patterson was cracking once again

His closing of the angles for one of the better early Birmingham chances was textbook, and his one-handed reflex save from our old mate Sanderson’s double shot was a beauty too. He could do nothing about the defensive error that led to the Brum goal, but he really is growing into a fantastic goalie and is earning us points along with the goal scorers in many games.

An honourable mention too for Simms, who took his chance really well to get us away. It was great to see his clinical finishing starting to come back.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - St. Andrew’s
Safe hands!
Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

Sean Brown says...

2 up

Me blood pressure

Amad f*cking Diallo

2 down

Bailey Wright

(see blood pressure, above)

Bailey Wright.

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