Matt Smith says…
Sunshine on a rainy day
Although many Sunderland sides of old would’ve relished the prospect of a rainy, windy night in Huddersfield, not many fans would suggest that these were ideal conditions for the current crop of players.
However, despite the disruption, they found a way to win against a side whose performance belied their league placing.
The benefit of a genuine long ball outlet in Ellis Simms certainly helped when surety of touch couldn’t be counted on, but this was still a very recognisable victory with both goals showcasing the passing, vision and movement we’ve come to expect, and enjoy, from our exciting young side.
The referee’s performance
It’s a sign of the poor quality we’ve been used to that I thought the referee was pretty fair and allowed the game to flow well. For clearing that low bar alone, I think he deserves a mention.
That’s not to say I didn’t have gripes, however. Abdoullah Ba’s booking seemed a bit harsh and maybe Diallo could count himself unfortunate not to be awarded a few free kicks at times.
Overall though, the ref seemed to be pretty consistent and didn’t let himself be swayed by the crowd into making the sort of costly or jobsworthy errors, such as awarding a penalty against Luke O’Nien for handball or booking Anthony Patterson for time-wasting, to which previous officials with whom we’ve been burdened would have succumbed.
He’s made the step up to the Championship look easy and has been critical to a lot of our better performances this season, but he had a bad night against Huddersfield.
Usually so composed, his passing seemed unusually rushed and even overambitious. We’re blessed with plenty of players further up the pitch to try the ‘eye of the needle’ or blind reverse pass, weighing minimal risk against obvious benefit.
For some reason, Evans seemed to think it was a good idea to deploy this tactic against Huddersfield’s press from the front. Fortunately no danger came from losing possession in these dangerous areas, but the World Cup break may be the breather that he needs.
I can see why he did it, given the reception he got and the howls of derision that greeted his failure to even connect with the ball when attempting to cross moments earlier.
He maybe even courted the abuse as a motivational driver and I can’t deny that seeing our own players wind up the home fans feels like payback for the many who have done the same to us.
However, it felt a bit like an admission that they’d got under his skin and I liked to think he was above that sort of thing. It wasn’t exactly Chris Maguire to Lee Johnson levels of provocation, but personally I’d just prefer it if Pritchard let his football do the talking, as it’s a lot more eloquent.
Michael Dunne says…
Abdoullah Ba’s performance
Our midfield struggled for large parts of the game, but I was so impressed by Ba when he came on.
His passing range and ability to break the game up, along with his ball-carrying ability, was perfect for what we needed. He brought energy and tenacity, and if I was Tony Mowbray, I would start him against Cardiff on Saturday.
Delight for Diallo!
Amad is really showing the quality that persuaded Manchester United to spend so much money on him.
He was very classy, especially in the second half. It seems to me that his confidence is growing, and that bodes well for us.
I think Corry Evans could probably do with a break on Saturday, because he looked lethargic and heavy-legged throughout.
The midfield was often open, which in turn put our defence under pressure at times, and perhaps we could change it for the visit of Cardiff.
Edouard Michut’s absence
Not really a negative on last night, but after his cameo against Luton, it was disappointing that he wasn’t involved against Huddersfield.
I think I read that there may have been an injury, which is disappointing as he certainly looks like a player, and he could’ve got some game time either last night and/or on Saturday.
Kelvin Beattie says…
What a waste of money!
That was the chant from the Huddersfield fans that echoed around a wet and windy John Smith’s Stadium, and Alex Pritchard sometimes looked quite forlorn on a night when, up to this point not much had gone right for him.
Fast forward two minutes and he added the finishing touch, having worked his socks off to break into the six yard box and get on the end of a peach of a ball from Patrick Roberts. A goal that was deserved and didn’t we all enjoy it!
Amad Diallo capped a lively performance with a good goal right at the death.
Ellis Simms’ assist is worthy of mention- the timing and pace of his pass could not have been better. Also our game management was excellent once we went ahead.
Huddersfield never gave the game up, but our defensive organisation and the balance of short and long balls worked very well, by and large.
I was looking forward to seeing Edouard Michut continue his journey into the first eleven.
This game and the weather conditions would have been a good test for the promising midfielder, and although the rumoured injury is a concern, hopefully it isn’t too serious .
Dennis Cirkin’s end product
I have enjoyed watching the rise of Cirkin.
He looks like a confident and reinvigorated player, as well as looking like he could cement his place in our ‘Sunderland left-back club’.
That said, he is not the finished article yet. I would like to see him work on his final ball, because he gets into some great positions going forward, but generally his end product is not so good.
Keep on developing, young man!
Mitch Marshall says…
Simms is back!
And I’m not just glad because of his song!
His threat from balls over the top, his ability in aerial duels and his general link-up play was excellent, and I think this was one of his best displays for us, which is saying something given that he’s only just on his way back from injury.
TKudos to Tony Mowbray for giving him a whole half to show his worth.
It was arguably a risky move given that Simms only played a small cameo role on Saturday against Luton, but it certainly paid off, because we are a different team with him on the pitch.
A bit of luck
In all honesty, Huddersfield created quite a lot of chances.
Thankfully the Jordan Rhodes who turned up was more like his Middlesbrough-era self than the prolific goalscorer of a decade ago, and his replacements weren’t much better. Chance after chance went either side of Anthony Patterson’s goal, especially as we sat deeper towards the end of the game.
In this respect the game reminded me quite a bit of some of our recent defeats, particularly against Blackburn. Whereas we have often lost out in the past few games despite creating a lot of chances, last night, the boot was on the other foot.
Amad’s somewhat lucky goal capped off a delightful night when things just seemed to go our way. As I said before the game, what could possibly go wrong?
I certainly wasn’t as perky as I am in the car home when I was getting soaked through in the beer queue at half time.
Sunderland had been off the pace against a team who didn’t look great, and a biblical deluge was pouring down on me just so I could fulfil my vain hopes of getting a pint of Foster’s to remedy the fullness of our showing so far.
However, seeing as we actually turned up for periods of the second half to great effect, I’ll let the weather gods off and say it added to the drama. There’s some post-victory positivity for you!
A song for Amad
Amad’s recent performances totally warrant a chant, because he’s been industrious and skilful.
He played in Patrick Roberts wonderfully for the assist for our first goal, before Ellis Simms did the same in in injury time to double our lead and secure the win. Perhaps the goalkeeper should’ve done better, but Amad had earned some luck with his performance.
What I could probably do without, though, is a chant with racial undertones about Amad’s manhood.
The song works perfectly well without it, and frankly, it’s a bit embarrassing to hear outdated stereotypes sung about one of our key players from our own fans. Hopefully we can leave that out in future.