It was a shame to see Sunderland trip and fall at Boro on a night where we were poor from the off.
The late blow with the news that Ross Stewart wouldn’t feature was a kick in the teeth, but at the end of the day, there’s more than one way to skin a cat - we really should have a plan B for when such things occur.
With Patrick Roberts drafted in to support Ellis Simms, we did at least have some attacking output to offer - or so I thought.
The ninety minutes we put in down at Middlesbrough were not for the football purists, and so many of our players decided to have their worst game for a while.
From my perspective, only Anthony Patterson and Danny Batth stood out as top performers for the Lads, though Alex Pritchard did look fairly sharp despite having to play a different role to the one we’ve played him in earlier this season.
Jack Clarke’s radar was pointed seemingly everywhere other than the Middlesbrough penalty area, whilst Gooch and O’Nien seemed to struggle.
Middlesbrough were far from spectacular, but they just about edged us over the entirety of the game. Their big centre halves, especially Clarke, marshalled Simms and Roberts well on the rare occasions we troubled the final third.
Last night on Teesside was a reality check and an eye opener all rolled into one. It showed that, despite a strong start to the season, we’re capable of an off day.
On another day with that performance, we would really have been put to the sword. Fortunately, the other chances the hosts had were kept out by Patterson, who had another solid match despite some of the defensive fragilities that played out in front of him.
A full match without Stewart had us looking weak up top, and if his injury is more severe than just a tweak, Mowbray will have his work cut out trying to figure out a different way of playing.
Maybe I’m being optimistic, or maybe I want to be logical, but the fact that Stewart was able to walk down the tunnel at the Riverside without any visible discomfort is a good sign right?...right?!
It was a bad day at the office, but we shouldn’t panic too much - the poor individual performances were hopefully just a one-off.
There’s no reason why we can’t just draw a line under this one and move on.
We’re back at home this Saturday for the first and last time this month, and it’s going to be hugely important to put in a much better display than what we saw last night.
Hopefully, we make things easier for ourselves against Millwall.