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Sheffield United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Bramall Lane

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Two Up, Two Down: Sunderland slip to first league defeat against Sheffield United

After losing Dan Neil to a red card, Sunderland refused to cave in and battled gamely against Paul Heckingbottom’s Blades. What were the positives and negatives from the game?

Photo by Isaac Parkin/PA Images via Getty Images

Kingsley Reavley says…

Two up!

The influence of Jay Matete

We signed Matete for a relatively large sum in League One terms, but he has never really had a solid run of games to enable him to show his worth.

The way he came on and had such a positive influence shows that he deserves a chance.

His tenacity and drive were both excellent, and he helped to galvanise those around him, as well as playing his part by getting the interception that led to Gooch’s brilliant goal.

We went down fighting

There was a distinct fear at 2-0 down that we may be en route to a chastening humiliation.

Thankfully, we held firm with ten men for over an hour against a side that finished ninth in the Premier League as recently as 2020. Heads didn’t go down, and shoulders weren’t slumped.

If nothing else, it was a massive learning experience for our players.

Two down

Vulnerability at set pieces

We still look susceptible at set pieces, and losing Dan Ballard has exacerbated the problem.

Do we need a different approach? Anthony Patterson can’t keep getting us out of trouble with his heroics, and let’s hope that Danny Batth coming off was just precautionary as well.

A weakness in midfield

Corry Evans’ calmness was undoubtedly a miss last night, and we were also bullied at times by Sheffield United’s strength and size, and specifically by Sander Berge, who was excellent.

Hopefully we have some transfer irons in the fire, as we’re still short of numbers and Evans has a history of breaking down.

Sheffield United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Ewan Bowman says…

Two up!

The players

After Dan Neil’s red card, the team showed real character and resilience to stay in the game and they gave a really good account of themselves. It really epitomised the spirit that Alex Neil has instilled in the squad.

From Ross Stewart to Anthony Patterson, the effort put in shows that we can have a successful season if we can sign some players before the window.

These players are a credit to our club.

Ross Stewart’s performance

We all knew he can score goals, but over the last year, Stewart’s overall game has improved dramatically.

He can score goals and hold the ball up; he starts our press brilliantly and he defends corners superbly. How he has not won more Scotland caps is beyond me, as the evidence shows that he offers much more than Lyndon Dykes at national level.

For Sunderland, we need to get him tied down to a new long-term contract.

Two down

A night to forget for Dan Neil

Neil is still a young player and he has fantastic potential, but the warning signs have been there.

Against Coventry, he dawdled on the ball which led to a great chance being missed, and last night, he was guilty of taking too many touches, which cost him possession which ultimately led to a straight red.

He has to learn from this and quickly, as the gap between the Championship and League One, in terms of quality, is huge.

Our options from the bench

Wednesday night’s bench consisted of Alex Bass, Patrick Roberts, Jay Matete, Trai Hume, Jack Diamond, Bailey Wright and Aji Alese.

With Dan Neil now suspended and Dan Ballard out injured, we desperately need more depth in the squad, and we need more game-changers on the bench, as well.

Hopefully, Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and the board have identified this.

Sheffield United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Bramall Lane Photo by Isaac Parkin/PA Images via Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says…

Two up!

We really did have a go

We started this game fairly well, pushing on to their back three and looking likely to score.

The red card changed the game, which was followed by their first goal.

We showed some grit and skill to keep ourselves in the match, and bar a couple of five-minute spells of Sheffield United domination in the second half, our effort was commendable.

Goooooch!

What a classy goal from one of our most versatile players.

It was a great interception from the lively Jay Matete, a cracking reverse from Ross Stewart, rounded off by a well-timed run and exquisite touch from Lynden Gooch.

Two down

Poor marking

There is no good time to concede a goal, but two minutes after the red card and with such an obvious faux-pas with the marking from the corner, it was a massive blow.

A straight red card?

I am not as convinced about Dan Neil’s sending off!

The distance and angle from the goal lead me to say sure as eggs are eggs, we will not get that call in our favour in our next game.

Good effort, lads. We go again on Saturday.

Sheffield United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Bramall Lane Photo by Isaac Parkin/PA Images via Getty Images

Sam Quigley says…

Two up!

Result!

Hear me out.

This Sheffield United team were battling for promotion from the Championship last year, whilst we were promoted from League One.

Had you told me then we’ll lose 2-1 with ten men and have five points on the board, I would’ve been happy with that.

We didn’t allow ourselves to get too rattled, and that is promising.

Anthony Patterson’s contribution

Since Jordan Pickford left, we’ve had our fair share of goalkeepers with crisp-packet hands, so it’s refreshing to see one who is strong and will claim loose balls.

Patterson kept the game from being embarrassing, even if his position for the first goal was a bit suspect.

Two down

Dan Neil’s red card

Neil will play at the top level, no doubt about that.

He just needs to keep a level head when things don’t go his way. He picked up a yellow card early on, and then, after a simple ball played to him, he took a touch as if his feet were pinball paddles, before panicking and pulling back James McAtee, which left us a player down.

New players, please!

Recruitment is desperately needed.

Alex Neil made no changes at halftime, most likely because he felt that the players on the pitch would be better playing out of position and defending the game, rather than bringing on an untested midfielder, such as Jay Matete.

With Dan Neil being sent off, it had a Luke O’Nien substitution written all over it, but he was playing in defence.

We need defensive cover, midfield cover, a utility player and possibly another goalkeeper.

Not too much for Kristjaan Speakman to do, then!

Sheffield United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Bramall Lane Photo by Isaac Parkin/PA Images via Getty Images

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