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Bradford City v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly

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Matchday Musings: Striker-less Sunderland lose at Bradford on the hottest day in history

Sunderland’s performance wasn’t great at Valley Parade, losing 2-0 to Bradford, but with no strikers on the pitch and a rookie in goal it seems harsh to feel too annoyed at the team for the result.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

We can’t win ‘em all, I guess... though it would be nice.

Losing games in pre-season doesn’t concern me greatly as more often than not you can give plausible reasons for why things played out the way that they did, and at Bradford things were no different - yes, we were playing against lower league opposition, but the majority of our first-choice first teamers sat this one out, and we picked a side that prioritised giving players vital minutes on the pitch over choosing our strongest side, with round pegs in round holes.

There weren’t too many surprises when I saw the teamsheet, though it was interesting to see that Jacob Carney was finally given a shot in goal. We haven’t seen too much of the youngster in first team action since he signed from Manchester United, but the lack of a senior deputy to Anthony Patterson meant that he was given a chance to show what we could do in front of Alex Neil.

Similarly, with no backup signed to Ross Stewart just yet, Jack Diamond and Jack Clarke were tasked with leading the line - ably backed up by Luke O’Nien in the ten position.

It was also a chance for young Ellis Taylor to make an impression, a player who is very highly thought of at the club and someone who has been on the fringes of the first team for a couple of seasons now. He started in the unfamiliar left wing back position, wearing number three on his back.

Bradford City v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

As much as I’d like to provide you with scintilating analysis of the first half, the stream provided by the club was shite and for almost the entirety of the 45 minutes you could not tell what was going on. Thankfully, Frankie and Lee Howey on the comms seemed to have a clearer picture than we did of what was going on, and I’ll take Lee’s word for it when he summarised at the break that something wasn’t quite clicking, and that Alex Neil would be sure to address it once he got the players in for a chat.

Thankfully, the IT wizards over at the SOL managed to reboot the servers and the stream for the second period was back to normal - thankfully, we didn’t miss a great deal of action in the first period anyways, and at least the patter on social media mocking the state of the picture was good fun. You’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself, ey.

There weren’t any changes at the break, and the Lads got back underway in what were searing hot conditions in West Yorkshire.

Unfortunately for us, it was the home side who took the early initiative - Osadebe shrugging off Carl Winchester far too easily before passing one beyond Carney to give Bradford the lead. If we’re being honest, the young lad in goal shouldn’t be getting beaten from that angle, and he should have done better - likewise Winchester, who was wrong-side of his man and slow to react.

We got about twenty minutes of football in before the stream turned into mashed potato again, which was nice. At least we got to see the Bradford goal in high quality.

Sunderland had a brief flurry of half chances before Lynden Gooch ballsed up and put his hands all over the Bradford forward, conceding a daft, rash penalty which was easily smashed home by Jamie Walker to double the Bantams lead.

The rest of the game was frustrating and sloppy, and the tiredness started to show in Sunderland’s play more and more as the minutes ticked along. Bradford, on the other hand, continued to make changes and looked fresher and more ‘on it’ - much to the annoyance of the Sunderland supporters hoping to see a goal or two from the Lads on the night.

Bradford City v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Bradford almost made it three after another rick from Carney, but his blushes were spared after Carl Winchester cleared the ball off the line as it looked destined to go in - not a great night for the youngster between the sticks, who would have been hoping to make a better impression on his big night in front of the first team coaching staff.

Whilst getting minutes into the legs of the players is the biggest priority, there will have been things that will have concerned Alex Neil - particularly the defending from two of his trusted senior players for the two goals, and the lack of depth up front, in goal and in the full back areas leading to him picking players who won’t be figured into the first team plans next season.

Still, all we can do is put that one behind us and look forward to the game at Accrington on Saturday, where we are sure to see a Sunderland side more like the kind of team that will take to the field the following weekend when we face Coventry City at the Stadium of Light.

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