Losing matches at any level is never good, but Sunderland’s away defeat to Burton Albion on this day in 2018 was a tough one to take for more than one reason.
In a match that was short on quality but high on drama, Sunderland’s dreadful first half where they were 2-0 down was compounded by an injury to new striker Charlie Wyke, who had to be stretchered off.
The first half performance was particularly limp and laboured. Unlike most games up to this point, Sunderland struggled to get their main men such as Josh Maja into the game which left them looking bereft.
It was obvious Jack Ross noticed this and with the enforced substitute of Chris Maguire, along with Aiden McGeady being introduced, Sunderland were far better in the second half.
Unfortunately, the damage was done in the first half where two goals in less than twenty minutes made this an insurmountable task and credit to Burton, they were two well-worked goals.
New Burton signing Jamie Allen bagged his first home goal as a Burton player following some excellent approach play down the right. Lucas Akins and Liam Boyce worked an opportunity for Marvin Sordell to get to the byline and fire in a low cross that deflected nicely into the path of the former Rochdale man to fire home.
Albion’s second came straight off the training ground as David Templeton’s free-kick picked out Kyle McFadzean on the penalty spot for the centre back to steer a powerful header beyond ex-Brewers goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin.
As previously stated, Sunderland were far better in the second half and displayed a spirit and togetherness that would have pleased their new manager Ross. That being said, things almost got worse before they got better.
Ex Republic of Ireland international, Stephen Quinn almost rifled one in from distance only for McLaughlin’s save to keep Sunderland somewhat in the game.
It appeared to spark Sunderland into life and with Maguire leading the charge, they got back into the game.
As what would become the norm with him, Chris Maguire fired in a superb curling effort from 25 yards to halve the deficit nine minutes after the restart but despite sustained pressure from the away side, Burton held on and it was not to be for Jack Ross’ men.
Post-game, a deflated Ross took the responsibility for the defeat and with the benefit of hindsight, he believed he could have done things differently.
The first half performance, if you replicate that you won’t win many matches at any level of the game and that was reflected in the scoreline at that stage of the game.
In the second half we were better without being fluent, but at least we looked interested in winning the game.
The first half was way below the standards we need to be successful this season, but it’s my responsibility as the manager.
It’s my team selection, my preparation. Regardless if a performance is good or bad it should always fall on my shoulders to try and rectify the issues.
It would turn out to be only a minor blip for Ross and his team as they wouldn’t taste defeat until mid-December again.
Burton Albion: Evtimov, Allen, McFadzean, Turner, Fraser, Akins, Templeton (Sbarra 87), McCrory, Sordell (Fox 80), Quinn, Boyce.
Subs not used: Campbell, Hesketh, Harness, Hutchinson, Cole.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Baldwin, Loovens (O’Nien 85), Matthews, Oviedo, Cattermole, Honeyman, Gooch, Sinclair (McGeady 51), Maja, Wyke (Maguire 43).
Substitutes: Ruiter, Ozturk, Flanagan, Hume.