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Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship

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Two Up, Two Down: Sunderland mauled by Middlesbrough

Michael Carrick’s team took advantage of a first half red card to record a thumping win at the Stadium of Light. We asked our writers for their thoughts on the game

Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Jonny Hawley says...

A decent first half

Performances don’t equal points, but the first half (until Dan Neil was sent off) was largely ‘won’ by Sunderland.

We had the better chances, limited Middlesbrough on the ball, and were generally good value, if slightly unfortunate not to lead when Patrick Roberts’ mazy run and shot ended in a save from Seny Dieng’s studs.

This is a minor positive, but it is a positive.

Middlesbrough will be there or thereabouts this season, and to match them for the first half and create openings that resulted in chances is something we should take heart from, particularly with our well-documented woes at home.

No serious injuries

Yes, it’s that bad. At least nobody is going miss a few months, thank God.

Welcome to ‘The Jarred Gillett Show’

I’m having to actively calm myself here, because what was this guy playing at?

Sending Dan Neil off under different circumstances may be potentially excusable but in the context of that game, it was unforgivable.

No yellow card for Sam Greenwood for raking his studs down a shin bone? Yellow cards given out like confetti for non-fouls, inconsistency abound, no control of the occasion, and just an all round shocker from a supposed Premier League referee.

Don’t mistake this for sour grapes, either, because Isiah Jones shouldn’t have been booked for ‘fouling’ Abdoullah Ba, for example.

Gillett just didn’t have a clue, and sending off Neil just stunk of someone high on their own supply, desperate for a headline and lacking a functioning spine. Pathetic.

A second half collapse

The second half was abysmal.

Watching it unfold, I could only bring myself to chuckle as the second, third and fourth goals went in, and I was still struggling to process the red card, to be honest.

On the other hand, I’m just a fan sat on my sofa with a telly remote in my hand, so I’m supposed to be able to give up when we’re getting beat!

The eleven, then ten men who were on the pitch should’ve been competing for every single loose ball and challenge, and battling until the ninety minutes had elapsed and the final whistle had gone.

It wasn’t helped by Tony Mowbray’s rather bold insistence that we played with no midfield after going down to ten men, but our lads showed an alarming lack of fight to allow Middlesbrough free rein to notch goal after goal in the second half.

I’m willing to forgive it as a one off but if that happens again, alarm bells should be ringing.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says...

Every little thing’s going to be alright!

Well done to those who stayed and for the choruses of ‘Three Little Birds’, as well as clapping the players off at the end.

I firmly believe these things are important to players and coaches.

Good performances from Ballard and Patterson

Last-ditch saves and tackles were the order of the day from these two in adversity, as the game developed into a hard lesson for our young team.

Boro got their victory and deserved it. They managed our ten men well and deserved the win. We lost three points but we’ll recover from this, I’m sure.

Not fit to referee!

There’s no doubt the officials had a bad day at the office.

Not just the sending off from our ‘empathetic’ referee, but a number of inconsistent decisions throughout. Having watched the game again, Tommy Smith not being booked for the pull back on Jack Clarke followed by a high boot on Jenson Seelt a moment or two later was an example of his ineptitude.

However, Dan Neil gave him a decision to make having already been harshly booked for an earlier challenge.

Josh Coburn’s head butt in the melee just before half time was missed and Isaiah Jones was offside for the third goal wasn’t picked up by the officials. However, the game had gone by this point.

Taking your ball and going home during a derby?

One of the most disappointing aspects of my day was the mass exodus after the third goal!

Surely we’re a bit better than this? Sometimes we need to suck a bad result up and stand by the team in adversity. Stay the course, folks!

Tom Albrighton says...

Jarred Gillett’s performance

An absolutely hopeless and farcical officiating performance that must go down as one of the worst the Championship has ever seen.

He was spineless for almost the entire game and if you didn’t know better, you would’ve been forgiven for thinking that Middlesbrough had twelve men.

Jarred Gillett’s performance (again)

Just so unbelievably bad.

For a man who claimed to be empathetic on the understanding this game was ‘a derby’ (I’ll let you decide), he was anything but.

The shambolic sending off of Dan Neil for an expletive that’ll be repeated several times on every football pitch in the country this week sums up the general hopelessness of the Aussie.

Jarred Gillett’s performance (third time lucky)

A beyond pathetic display, compounded by a complete inability to penalise Middlesbrough for any infringement.

One would assume that if a commonly-used expletive was worthy of a red card, a studs up and shin-high challenge would also be, and if that wasn’t at least, being penalised twice for diving whilst on a yellow card would be enough for such a stringent referee. Of course, it wasn’t.

Incompetent doesn’t cut it.

Jarred Gillett’s performance (an encore)

My only regret is that this doesn’t extend beyond four paragraphs.

Although he was beyond hopeless, I do express a slight amount of empathy with Gillett, as his general inability isn’t entirely his fault. Instead, the FA’s continued stance and protection of officials only further fuels the incompetency of its referees.

If Mr Gillett had even an ounce of decency, the bare minimum of an apology would be forthcoming, maybe with an extended holiday to boot, but I won’t hold my breath.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


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