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Sunderland v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship

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2 Up, 2 Down: Picking out the positives and negatives from Sunderland’s performance v Millwall!

Despite a poor first half on Saturday, the Lads turned it around superbly after the break as we eventually ran out 3-0 winners. What were the positives and negatives to take away from the game?

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Gav says...

Half time heroes!

If you’d said to me at the interval that we were going to win this game 3-0, I would’ve told you to stop being stupid.

None of us saw that coming after such a turgid opening forty-five minutes, so credit must go to the head coach and his players for addressing some of the obvious issues that had been holding us back.

We got dragged down to Millwall’s level in the first half, but we played our own game after half time and it allowed us to flourish.

Batth and O’Nien do the business again

We’re all aware of the impending return of Dan Ballard, as well as the fact that Aji Alese and Dennis Cirkin are in a battle for a defensive role, so it’s important that the lads who do start keep churning out impressive performances if they want to hold down their spot in the team.

Danny Batth has been outstanding all season and against Millwall, he was a class apart. OK, that’s a given because he’s a proven performer at this level - but what about Luke O’Nien?

The man who so many love to write off keeps coming back like a boomerang, and has stuck two fingers up to everyone who said he couldn’t do it in the Championship with a string of solid showings at the back.

For now, he’s first choice; his partnership with Batth is growing game by game, and they deserved their clean sheet.

Set piece problems

I love Alex Pritchard and I’m not going to lay into him after he played such an important role in our win, but we need to find someone else who can take set pieces because he hasn’t taken a decent one all season.

Pundits love to remind us that we haven’t scored from a set piece this season, and is anyone surprised?

His corners and free kicks haven’t been good enough and every time he takes one it feels like a wasted opportunity. Hopefully, he can swallow his pride and someone else can take over in the hope that it improves our luck.

Dan Neil under pressure?

Neil is our best academy prospect and he gets so many chances, but I think we have to start demanding more from him.

We’ve got some good young midfielders waiting for a chance, and the January window is looming, so the challenge from Tony Mowbray should be that Neil needs to step it up if he wants to remain a regular fixture in the starting eleven.

He goes missing far too often and he doesn’t compete physically. We need to see more from him or I’d be thinking about giving someone else a go alongside Corry Evans.

Sunderland v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Paddy Hayes says...

Resilience!

We were under the cosh in the first half, and we came out after the break as a team rejuvenated- presumably after a Tony Mowbray grilling.

It could’ve easily have gone the other way, and we could’ve buckled under the early Millwall pressure.

It wasn’t a pretty performance by any means, but we showed a different side to our game and were able to grind out a result.

Amad’s form

Slowly but surely, Amad is demonstrating why he commanded such a large fee when he moved from Atalanta to Manchester United.

His tenacity in attack, combined with his game-changing ability terrifies defences. He’s a joy to watch and his confidence is growing game by game.

A poor first forty-five minutes

During the first half, we were outmuscled and bullied throughout.

We gave away needless free kicks in relatively dangerous positions against a side with a real aerial threat, and it felt like we weren’t learning from our mistakes.

Defensive jitters

Perhaps it was because of the sheer physicality of the opposition, but we really seemed to struggle in the first half.

Lessons were learned in how not to deal with the high ball and set pieces after the break, and there’s definitely a sense that we need to wise up more quickly when on the back foot.

Sunderland v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Mark Wood says...

Injured players returning

Lynden Gooch and Aji Alese were back in the starting eleven, and Ellis Simms kept his place after returning for our last couple of games.

I thought Simms got his reward for the thankless task of leading the line alone, with his goal right at the end, whilst Alese looked comfortable on his first start since Blackburn.

A tough test from Millwall

They kept coming at us all the way until the end, but we managed to show a certain amount of cunning ourselves by picking our moments and unlocking their defence three times in the second half.

We had some luck at times, but although you can scrape a 1-0 win, the same can’t be said for a 3-0 win.

The future for Amad?

The lad has been great for us in recent games and he just keeps getting better.

I’m looking forward to watching how much he improves during the second half of the season, as that will only be to our benefit.

At the end of the season, Manchester United will have a talented and confident player returning to their ranks who has come on leaps and bounds during his year with us.

Too close for comfort at times!

We somehow we got to the break without conceding.

It was twenty-five minutes or so until we really started to play. We still needed our share of luck, and Anthony Patterson got away with one for sure.

Getting to half time on level terms was just as important as anything we did in the second half, but on another day I feel we could’ve been punished.

Sunderland v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Michael Dunne says…

Amaaaaaad!

He’s rapidly becoming one of our key men and is showing the ability that persuaded Manchester United to spend all that money on him.

I’ve been so impressed with him lately and it seems that he’s going from strength to strength. He’s a perfect example of why the club have implemented a model based around young players.

O’Nien and Batth impress again

It is well-documented that Millwall are a very physical team, and they lived up to this.

At times we looked slightly vulnerable but I felt that Danny Baath and Luke O’Nien really stood up to the test, and O’Nien in particular has been brilliant.

I think he suits a central defensive role very well, and the way he puts his body on the line is the perfect foil for the experienced Baath. They are becoming a decent pair in defence.

A poor first half performance

We looked a little bit rusty, which was to be expected after a few weeks off.

Thankfully, not much damage was done before we upped it in the second half.

A scary moment for Patterson!

Anthony Patterson’s pass to the Milwall player on the stroke of half time was a heart-in-mouth moment. Had that gone in, it could’ve been a different game.

Sunderland v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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