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Hartlepool v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly

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Two Up, Two Down! The positives and negatives from Sunderland’s draw at Hartlepool

A much-changed Black Cats team took on Paul Hartley’s side on Monday night. What did we learn from the game, and what were the things that we can improve?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Gav says…

Trai Hume did enough to start on Sunday

I know that it’s going to be a big occasion at the weekend and that we’ll need experienced, level heads, but in all honesty I don’t think Lynden Gooch has done enough in pre-season to say he definitely has to start at the weekend.

The performance of Trai Hume in this game should give Alex Neil a real headache as he decides who should start against Coventry.

We all know that Hume still has a lot of room for improvement, but I think he’s simply more suited to playing in a team that relies on good crosses into the box than Gooch. It is important that we don’t place too much importance on pre-season performances, but I was really impressed by Hume’s pressing, tackling, attacking play and perhaps best of all, his crossing.

He’s a proper wing-back, he gives me a lot of confidence when he’s on the ball, and I’m not sure I can always say the same for Goochy, as much as I love his passion.

Job done?

The number one priority in this game was to ensure that all of the players who needed minutes in their legs actually got them, and we did that without anyone picking up an injury, so I guess you could say ‘job done’.

Alright, we didn’t win the game but we were undoubtedly the better team across the whole ninety minutes and played at a decent enough tempo, which is fair enough considering we had numerous square pegs in round holes, and no striker on the pitch.

I imagine Neil will be happy enough with the exercise and that he got what he needed out of it, ahead of the game on Sunday.

Defending… again!

Alright, I think that if I’m going to pick out the defending in the Bradford and Accrington games, it’s only fair that we do the same here.

The goal came from pretty much the only real opportunity that Hartlepool had in the game, and it started from our own corner. I know it is sometimes hard to defend a counter attack but this was right at the start of the match, and the players were fresh enough to get back and win the ball, but the collective defending of the team was poor.

The fact that it went in off one of our own players just made it worse!

Mags in the crowd

Once again, there was a Mag knacker in the opposite end to the Sunderland supporters, waving a Toon flag around as he tried to get a rise out of the lads and lasses in the away stand.

Why do they do it?

They’re finally back in love with their own club, yet they’re turning up to Sunderland pre-season games on a Monday night, and I can’t get my head around it.

Strangest fanbase on Earth.

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

Kelvin Beattie says…

The performance of Elliot Embleton

Embleton received and used the ball well against Hartlepool.

He is a silky player to watch on his day, but can sometimes disappear during games. Last night, however, he showed that he can be involved for the whole 90 minutes and was the quality player on show throughout.

A good 90 minutes for the majority of the eleven players that took to the field, with honourable mentions for Trai Hume and Jack Diamond.

Well played, Jacob

I was also impressed with the distribution and positioning of Jacob Carney. Although he was not overworked in goal, he went about his work competently and with little fuss.

An occasionally slack final pass

Although we created a number of half chances and corner kicks, our final pass generally lacked someone on the end of it, or that bit of quality to make the difference.

Generally, our defending was fairly tight, with Aji Alese once again showing that he has pace and defensive ability in him.

What was disappointing was the number of wayward long balls, especially in the second half attempted by most if not all of our defence.

The importance of maintaining possession

Turning over the ball so easily in the Championship will place us under avoidable pressure, and is something we can definitely do without.

Hopefully, Alex Neil and the players will have that issue sorted for the Coventry game.

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

Phil West says…

A promising performance from Trai Hume

Hume is something of a puzzle.

He arrived in January with a burgeoning reputation and made a handful of appearances before seemingly disappearing into the ether. This pre-season, however, he has re-emerged and with pretty positive results.

Against Hartlepool, Hume was all action; a constantly energetic presence on the flank and he also put up a solid enough showing defensively. He is not the most physically imposing defender, and perhaps Alex Neil would like to see him bulk up before giving him an extended run in the team, but performances like this can’t hurt his chances at all.

Embleton shows some real class

Converted into a deep-lying playmaker in an experiment that began last season and has continued over the summer, Embleton is maturing and developing into a superb option for us.

He has an eye for a pass and plenty of composure on the ball, and if he can add greater consistency to his game, there is no reason why he cannot become a Championship-quality player.

Mag flags and hashtags

Newcastle fans really do follow us everywhere, don’t they?

So deep-seated is their interest in us that Sunderland could play a game on a pitch next to an Antarctic research station, and Newcastle supporters, just as they did on Monday night in Hartlepool, would turn up, wave flags, and attempt to wind us up.

As the game unfolded, it was the same on social media, as our black and white neighbours jumped on countless posts related to the game, usually with the kind of unoriginal and crushingly dull ‘humour’ that we associate with them.

Peculiar, but they clearly get a kick out of it!

Strikers - we need some!

Alex Neil didn’t have to play Jack Diamond as a makeshift centre forward in order to drive home the message that reinforcements are needed, but he did it anyway, and although it actually looked like an experiment that had value last night, there is no way that it would be a feasible option in the Championship.

Support for Ross Stewart is certainly needed, and the sooner we can secure these incomings, the better. With Troy Parrott now off the agenda, hopefully we can secure the services of Nathan Broadhead - plus another striker - before the window closes.

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

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