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Sunderland v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One

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Two Up, Two Down: What were the positives + negatives from Sunderland’s performance?

We won 3-1, but that doesn’t tell the full story - what were the biggest positives and negatives from Sunderland’s performance v Fleetwood?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says...

Early subs bring late pay off

Making two changes at the break didn't see us click straight away, but it at least gave Gooch and Defoe time to make an impact. We had dominated possession in the first half but our play was meandering, whereas in the second there were a few little things that made it seem a bit more focused and bit more aggressive. Although a lot of it was still laboured we got into the faces of Fleetwood Town and it soon had them making errors and having to think about things more, which in time help us turn it around.

We’ve missed Luke

I’d forgotten how much of an impact O’Nien can have on us as a team. He has his detractors but for me he is vital - sometimes it is not about tactics or shape, sometimes it is simply energy and tempo that make a difference and we saw that on his return. He is a workie ticket I know and if he played against us I dare say his antics would rub fans up the wrong way, but it is great to see teams getting a taste of their own medicine from him. He’s a canny operator no doubt, but that finish shows he has good technique too and I’m chuffed to see him back.

Making it hard for ourselves

For a long time it looked like this would be another dispiriting game at the SoL where the away team turn up hoping to just spoil things a fluke a goal from somewhere. Opposition sides must know we will give them a chance at some point, and that if they go in front our heads will drop. The same scenario was playing itself out again but we have to get used to the fact mistakes will happen or things will go against us and we have to get better with how we react to that. The game had been flat and Wright doesn’t need me to tell him what went wrong for their goal, but we compounded it by then losing our heads and making poor choices instead of playing our way back in. That first half has to be one of the worst at home all season, but hopefully the players can take something from the fact we did then come back to get the points and remember it the next time there is a balls up. Rival teams will have seen we were losing at half time so the eventual win will hopefully come as a blow to them, and for our part it would be nice to think this is a turning point where a bad start doesn’t now always mean a bad result.

No goal Defoe

It was far from pretty but we got the points and could be heading in the right direction under Neil. Wright responded and alongside his teammates worked hard to make sure Patterson had little to do in the second half, a decent free kick save aside, and Embleton and Clarke will get a boost from their strikes, so the only thing that would have topped it off would have been a goal for Defoe. It would have been galling had Fleetwood scored in added time considering most of it was from their own messing about, but once we’d made sure with Clarke’s excellent finish I was desperate to see us create another chance. When we did that and Defoe was clean through it looked like he would put the seal on things, but with any luck, he’ll get another opening on Saturday and put it in. He had a hand in this win anyway, but every striker wants to get on the scoresheet and I reckon that once he does it will open the floodgates for him at this level.

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says...

First half flops

That first half was god-awful. We had no attacking intent, the shape felt wrong, the concentration was rank and the passing and control was abysmal. I was left wishing we still had five subs, as if I had my way and we did, we would have emptied the bench twenty minutes in. I truly hope we learned from that as I never want to see the like again.

Clean sheet denied by our own gaffs

We may well have had another clean sheet if it wasn't for the daft error we made in that first half. How on earth a player of Bailey’s talent can do what he did is beyond me, and Patto wasn’t exactly shining in his attempt at saving the shot, though it was taken well.

Again that is a lesson that even against a team who are in bad form you have to do the basics well or you may get punished.

I’m also hoping that the withdrawal of Arby at half time was tactical, as we don’t need another injury, though he did make a few mistakes which made it a toss up who to pull. Bad day at the office, but hopefully the last one for a bit.

We ground one out when we needed to

The second half was far from glamorous football but any result like a 3-1 win from 1-0 down has to be given the credit it deserves. Embo fluffed one in off his kneecap, Luke finished well gambling on a chance off a Defoe shot, and Clarke totally smashed it into the top bins. 3 very different goals but we will take any and all after the points we dropped at Charlton, which we didn’t deserve to.

Luke is back, and the kids are doing alright again

When the gaffer put Luke on in the second half I like many was expecting him to sit deep and push Embo upfield, but he did the opposite, and how well did he do! We have really missed people taking an opportune punt in the box and him getting the second reminded me of his goals earlier in his career of a similar nature. I mentioned in the last reaction pod, the injury to Pritch is a potential chance for others, and Luke, Jermain, Patrick and Jack C all stepped up and were counted, and we took 3 points for our three goals. Maybe there is depth in our squad, and maybe this manager is happy to use it even from the half time option to effect a change. Maybe we can still do this via the playoffs.

Sunderland v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Kevin Campbell says...

A come-from-behind win

Haven’t seen a lot of those this season. In fact, we’ve seen far too many games where we concede first, drop our heads and get demolished. It was good to see some heart and fight after going behind. Even if it wasn’t the prettiest of games.

Jack Clarke

This kid has got some kind of potential. If he can cut out some of the inconsistency in his passing and crossing, he could be quite a player. I don’t think there’s a full back in league one who can keep up with his pace and quickness on the ball. If he can maintain his quality while adding consistency with the final ball, we’ve got quite a player on our hands.

Lack of striker goals

It’s been three games now without a goal from a striker from open play. And the concerning bit is, there have been plenty of chances. Stewart, Broadhead and Defoe have had their chances to score in the last two games and haven’t put them away. A striker in form will be imperative for a solid run-in, so hopefully, this is not a growing trend.

Defensive consistency

It seemed as though Alex Neil had brought some security to the backline in his short time at the club, and maybe he has, but today was not up to standard. The goal came from woeful play and our defence struggle turning over possession in bad areas for large parts of the game. Hopefully, an outlier that can be cleaned up before Saturday – but definitely worrying.


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