Kingsley Reavley says...
The performance of Corry Evans
How this man isn’t held in higher regard by the Sunderland fanbase is beyond me.
He may not score goals or provide assists very often, but his contribution to our success over the past twelve months has been huge.
Evans turned in another composed, assured and disciplined performance against QPR, although he did tire in the second half.
He read the game brilliantly on a number of occasions, before intercepting the ball and passing it to a more creative and mobile teammate. It was a shame that he couldn’t see us over the line as he deserved to be on the winning side
The Stadium of Light atmosphere
The turnout was excellent, and up until the last five minutes of the game, the atmosphere was outstanding. The feel-good factor is back, despite the eventual result, and let’s not forget that we were minutes from being top of the table.
A drop-off in the second half
After putting so much energy into the first half, it was inevitable that there would be a dip in performance, especially in such energy-sapping conditions.
I’m not one to question Alex Neil, but should more changes have been made earlier, to help stem the tide?
Taking Ellis Simms off seemed to isolate Ross Stewart, and then we began to drop deeper and deeper. We were able to get away with it in League One, but that won’t be the case against decent Championship sides.
Jack Clarke on erratic form
After I sang his praises last week, he turned in a pretty abject performance.
He was often guilty of overplaying and needlessly giving the ball away. In addition, too many attacks broke down when we through him, and that contributed to QPR clawing their way back into the game.
He’s not going to get it right every week, but when you are two goals up in scorching heat, the ball needs to be kept moving and not taken down blind alleys. It was naive play, and hopefully he learns from it.
The performance of the ‘SAS’
That’s five goals between them in their two appearances together.
There’s just something about the Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms partnership that works. We already knew how good Stewart is, but I have said all along that he needs someone to work with, and in Simms, he seems to have the perfect partner.
We are still undefeated in the league!
It is a win and two draws from our opening three league games, which even the most optimistic of Sunderland fans would have said was unlikely upon our return to the division.
We have five points, although it should be seven, and we are inside the top six.
Fragility in the dying embers
Against QPR, as was the case against Coventry, we failed to see out a result from a seemingly comfortable position, as a result of our own lack of composure and naivety.
No team is ever truly beaten in this division.
In League One, you might go two goals up against one of the weaker teams and it’s ‘goodnight’. In the Championship, however, teams will fight for a point right to the bitter end, and we’ve fallen victim to that on two occasions.
If Dan Ballard has broken his foot, we might be in trouble.
He has been brilliant since he joined the club, and the fact that Bailey Wright and Aji Alese were both on the bench, but Alex Neil chose to put on Luke O’Nien to replace Ballard speaks volumes to me.
If Ballard is out for any number of weeks, it would appear that the gaffer has little trust in the options that are currently available to him.
Ewan Bowman says...
Three league games unbeaten
At the start of the season, we all looked at the fixture list and saw matches against Coventry, Bristol City, and QPR as the opening run.
We have taken five points out of nine, which is a respectable return, and despite dropping points at home, I think all Sunderland fans would’ve accepted this points tally after the first three league games.
A potent red and white frontline
Both of our strikers are a handful for defenders in this league.
Ellis Simms reminds me of Josh Maja: a strong, quick and instinctive finisher, and Ross Stewart offers the physicality, runs the channels and is a perfect partner for the Everton loanee.
Both players need to stay fit, otherwise we will struggle.
Dropping points at home
Despite being in winning position, we conceded two late goals and dropped another two points.
Against Coventry, a draw was a fair result, but after being 2-0 up against QPR, we should not have conceded two goals.
We have to be more streetwise in the league, and develop the ability to finish teams off.
A worrying lack of options from the bench
The past week has highlighted the lack of squad depth.
It was obvious in midweek against Sheffield Wednesday, and on Saturday, Dan Ballard went off injured, and rather than bring on a natural defender to replace him, Alex Neil brought on Luke O’Nien.
The board must bring in at least four new signings before the window closes, in order to supplement the current squad, and particularly in central midfield, where we lack Championship experience.
Overall a very frustrating afternoon.
Ian Bendelow says...
A very good performance for seventy minutes
This is a team that is more than capable of holding its own in this league.
Yes, there are gaps in the squad, but the faith we should have means that our objectives this season will be met.
Ross Stewart, Dan Neil, Dennis Cirkin and Anthony Patterson, to name a few, are certainly Championship calibre players. They did not look out of place at all against QPR, and you could say that they were robbed on Saturday, but the quality on display meant fare more than the result.
On the other hand, these players need to be able to last for the full ninety minutes.
Alex Neil’s message to his side should be to have confidence. It hurts, but don’t worry.
The ‘SAS’ are a lethal partnership
How could you claim any differently?
When the game had its natural flow before the heat and QPR’s desperation took hold, Ellis Simms and Ross Stewart were utterly dominant. Their link-up play, their mutual understanding, and the goals scored are a huge plus when you consider they’ve played less than two games together.
On a day of many positives, their blossoming partnership offers a lot of hope for the season.
Poor game management
When you are two goals up with eighty seven minutes gone, shut up shop, because there is no need to chase the third goal.
Dan Neil’s decision to step forward into an attacking midfield position to try and win the ball put Sunderland under pressure. Had he held his position, he would have been far more likely to stop the counter-attack.
As it was, the free kick was conceded and the rest is history.
Dan Ballard leaves a gap
Alex Neil’s post-match assessment was not good, and the fact Ballard hopped off the pitch with what looked like a possible broken foot is a big worry.
It will change the way Sunderland play and will also place greater emphasis on either Bailey Wright or Aji Alese.
Time will tell how much our manager trusts them, but they need to step up, starting at Bramall Lane.
Andrew Smithson says…
Mood lighting at our home stadium
The whole atmosphere at the Stadium of Light is so much more positive compared to our last Championship season.
I know the sun being out and the fact we looked like winning helped, but even after that crazy final few minutes where we let the lead slip, the majority of fans recognised the effort that was being put in, and they stuck with the side.
At half time even the concourses had been buzzing. It was all a far cry from the last time we were at this level, when everyone was feeling flat and people would dread going to games.
Some excellent off the ball work
It seems daft to say, given the fact we lost two points late on, but for a large part of the second half we were fantastic.
In the first half, we played some great stuff, but QPR were decent away from home last season and were always going to come back at us, so to limit them to scuffed efforts and pot shots was decent going.
Corry Evans and a few others worked really hard to make sure we kept our shape out of possession, and some of our defending was very strong. As hard as it is to take right now, we need to remember that it has taken two wonder goals and a bit of a freak incident to stop us winning our first two home games, and there is much to be positive about.
Get well soon, Dan!
I’ve not seen any updates yet, but obviously I hope that Dan Ballard is going to be back soon.
Losing your first-choice centre-back so early in the game is never ideal, and whilst Luke O’Nien slotted in very well, we could do without any long-term injuries when there are so many games coming up.
Two points dropped
Ninety nine times out of one hundred, we’d have won that game comfortably.
Any time a goalkeeper scores, it becomes a talking point and I hate it when Sunderland are the butt of the joke, particularly when what happened was just one of those things.
The real issue, however, are the extra points we could have had. I don’t want to be too critical given the circumstances, but we cannot afford to allow losing leads to become a habit.