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Fulham v Sunderland - Emirates FA Cup - Fourth Round - Craven Cottage

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Two Up, Two Down: What were the positives & negatives from Sunderland’s cup performance?

The Lads will face the Cottagers in a replay after an entertaining 1-1 draw on Saturday. What were the main positives and negatives from the game?

Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says…

We deserve to be in the hat!

There’s an argument that we deserved to win the game outright, but even making do with a replay is a bit of an achievement.

This was no cup fluke either, because we were superb at points and we really took the game to Fulham.

Our performances are exciting and I was chuffed to see the Lads give a good account of themselves.

The return of Niall Huggins

I was surprised to see him on the bench but it was great to get Huggins involved and I really hope he has a run of good fortune in terms of fitness.

This isn’t just for us, but for the lad himself. He deserves a break and a chance to move his career forward.

The squad in general could do with some good luck, because it’s heartbreaking to see see all the injuries we’re experiencing.

A bit too open at times?

This isn’t so much a criticism of the players who currently are performing exceptionally well given their age and experience, but there were times late on when it became edgy to watch due to how open we were.

Tactics and tiredness doubtless played a part, but I’d be a lot calmer if we were able to tighten things up a bit. It’s a tricky balance and it would be a shame to stifle that attacking threat, but being able to shut up shop or slow the pace down could be things we need to get comfortable with if we want to continue progressing.

The loss of Corry Evans is a huge blow in that regard, and the only positive about the timing his injury and that of Ross Stewart’s is that we’ve still got time to consider reinforcements.

It remains to be seen if the right options are available, but one thing that is certain is that the lads we do have will give their all. The late double save from Anthony Patterson and Dan Ballard’s diving header challenge proved how much they wanted it.

Last-gasp frustration

Seeing what you think is a late winning goal only for it to be chalked off is a horrible feeling.

It was the right call and fair play to the officals for not needing VAR, but it would’ve been a great moment for Chris Rigg and his initial celebrations suggested that no matter what happens in the future, he appreciates his opportunity and is keen to do his best for Sunderland.

His recent comments about his background will hopefully cut out some of the unhelpful speculation as well, and for Tony Mowbray to feel able to bring him on at the stage he did speaks volumes.

To go to a top half Premier League side and perform so well shows the potential we have as a group, but for one brief moment it felt as if we were going to have the cherry on the cake!

Fulham v Sunderland: Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Anthony Gair says...

An exceptional game of football!

I’ve said all week that we’re more suited to the Premier League’s style of football, and I was proven correct yesterday.

Fulham couldn’t handle us at times and we should’ve been about 3-0 up after sixty minutes.

They eventually grabbed an equaliser and both teams got a bit more defensive, but it didn’t detract from the spectacle and I can’t wait for the replay!

Anthony Patterson shines again

What a performance from the big lad.

He caught everything that was aimed at Aleksandar Mitrović’s head in the second half and he also saved everything he could with every part of his body.

It was a magnificent performance, and it should boost his confidence no end!

Another injury for Ross Stewart

We knew it was coming- you play your best players in the cup competitions and you risk injury.

However, Tony Mowbray was right to test his side against a Premier League team, and Stewart would’ve been fuming had he not played.

It’s awful luck but there’s no need for vitriol, so let’s get on with it!

An early exit for Aji Alese

Alese was taken off at half time, and it was probably due to a lack of fitness after his recent injuries.

However, I’m sure he’ll be overjoyed to get forty five minutes under his belt against a Premier League side.

Bring on the replay!

Jon Guy says…

Holding our own

We didn’t look out of place and we had chances to win the game.

The team put a huge amount of effort in as always and had our finishing been better, we’d be in the next round without the need for a replay.

We aren’t the finished article, but we’re on the way.

A case for the defence

Dan Ballard and Anthony Patterson were outstanding yesterday.

We were always going to be under pressure but it gave the defence a chance to prove their worth. They stuck to the task and although we conceded, they deserve huge credit.

More injury concerns

It was a body blow for both Ross Stewart and the fans.

Thankfully there was no splint, but given the news over Corry Evans’ injury from a seemingly minor challenge, we need to be holding our breath it’s not too bad.

Missed chances

Following Stewart’s injury, we had chances to win it.

It’s a worry that our main goalscorer looks to be out for another extended period, so we have to hope that Joe Gelhardt will fill his boots in the league, and it would be nice to get Ellis Simms back, too.

Fulham v Sunderland - Emirates FA Cup - Fourth Round - Craven Cottage Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Kingsley Reavley says...

A real sense of pride

A lot has been said about how proud we can be of this young team, and yesterday’s game was a perfect example.

It was entertaining and breathless, and we played with maximum commitment. There were brilliant performances all over the pitch and it was genuinely one of the best games I’ve seen for a long time.

To have seventeen shots on goal away from home against a team seventh in the Premier League is some going. We played with no fear and looked like we belonged there.

Football is about your team taking you on a journey full of emotions and the lads certainly did that!

Dan Ballard stands tall

It’s hard to pick out a single player but Ballard was sublime.

Up against Vinícius, who’s scored goals consistently across Europe, he completely dominated him to the point where Fulham had to bring Aleksandar Mitrović on early.

He won aerial duels, he put his body on the line, he made a last-ditch goalline clearance and he had the confidence to stride out of defence to pick a forward pass when we were under pressure.

Ballard has the potential to go right to the top and hopefully he can do it with us

Good opportunities missed

You can’t expect to miss that amount of chances at this level and not be punished.

There were countless times when we created a clear opening and either through a lack of composure or poor finishing, we just couldn’t get the second goal.

Ultimately, it cost us dearly which was incredibly frustrating.

Ross Stewart’s injury

It was a shame that a fantastic performance is going to be largely overshadowed by what looks like a nasty injury to our talisman.

Just when all was going well, we were struck with terrible luck again.

I daresay that we would’ve gone on to win if Stewart had stayed on, due to the amount of chances we created. It’s been said a thousand times but he’s so integral to what we do and he’ll be a massive loss if he’s out long-term.

The question is, what now? Do we go back into the market for a striker?

It’s a tricky one.


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