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Sunderland v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship

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What were the positives and negatives from Sunderland’s win over Birmingham?

Despite an erratic performance and some shaky moments, the Lads held their nerve to secure a second consecutive home win on Saturday. What did our writers make of the game?

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Kelvin Beattie says…

A Lot to Like

I really enjoyed the game, not only because we scored more goals than the opposition, but they put us under a bit of pressure with a very effective press and a well worked goal and we managed to come back with a bit to spare. Fair play to our two centre backs, who found themselves under a fair bit of pressure in the first half in particular and came through with a much steadier show in the second half.

Forward March!

What a hard working lively performance from Rusyn we witnessed yesterday, and so close to getting that confidence building first goal, I feel sure it will come for him. We have waited all season so far to see Mayenda, he did not disappoint. Strong and with good pace he could have easily scored on his debut. I cannot wait to see more of this livewire.

Did we lose it or they win it?

I was a bit disappointed in the very audible moaning by some sections of our crowd, when Birmingham won the ball back. Particularly aimed at Dan Neil and Ekwah. I would ask those moaning to consider, did we give the ball away a lot, or did Birmingham win the ball back? Their press in spells was as good as any I have seen this season, and whilst I would agree, neither Neil nor Ekwah had their best games, the opposition are not spectators who stand idle whilst the two centre midfielders send the ball round corners - a bit of balance if you please!

Consistent Refereeing?!

I hate moaning about officials, but…!

The referee and his linesmen treat us to the full continuum of irritating decisions/non-decisions that week in week out aggravate the life of your average football fan. To let go so much rough-house treatment, particularly on Patrick Roberts in the first half whils pulling up the softest of contacts at other times was nothing short of bizarre. Thankfully the ref’s twin brother stepped in for the second half and was marginally better!

Honourable mentions to Patterson and Huggins, who both had cracking games.

Sunderland v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Anth Gair says…

Some excellent attacking play

Jack Clarke, Patrick Roberts and Nazariy Rusyn were brilliant yesterday, causing issues whenever they had possession.

Another assist for Clarke, Rusyn hit the post, and Roberts tore Bacuna a new one every time he got the ball.

When Adil Aouchiche came on with Eliezer Mayenda, our attacking nous didn’t wane and we’re great to watch.

Nazariy Rusyn impresses

It’s not a very cool opinion, but I reckon the problems he causes are worth more than any goals he could score.

He’s so good at finding space up top, and Birmingham’s defence couldn’t deal with him.

It was a shame that he didn’t score but once he gets his first, I expect the floodgates to open.

Praise for Patto

His concentration is amazing for a young goalkeeper.

He didn’t have much to do in the second half but he remained switched on. Birmingham could quite easily have pulled one back but he was magnificent when it was required.

Officials...don’t we just love them?

The officiating in this league is atrocious.

That’s all!

Sunderland v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

Defensive resilience

Losing three of our first choice defenders would be enough to cause any team massive issues at the back, but apart from one lapse in concentration, we defended pretty well despite such massive disruption.

A good opportunity for the new lads was taken pretty well, and although it was nervy at times, there was a real upside.

Three goals scored

After hitting the woodwork a couple of times in the first half, I wondered whether we were about to have a home version of the game against Swansea City.

However, the lads really worked very hard and the goals came in the end. They weren’t pretty, but we got all three points and could’ve had five or six goals on another day.

That gives us seven points from nine ahead of the break, which is a a decent return.

A setback for Dennis Cirkin

Just when we thought we were getting a genuinely good player back, Cirkin pulled up during the warm up and forced another change.

Although he’s very good at this level and may play higher up one day, his repeated injury issues are a real concern. Maybe we have to look at another left back option in the winter window, although if it was precautionary, maybe he can resume play after the internationals.

We seem to have no luck with our full backs, especially on the left, but hopefully our fortunes can change soon.

A sub-par performance from Pierre Ekwah

One or two of the lads didn’t play as well as they can yesterday.

Ekwah made a few too many errors and every time he tried to fire a shot with his boomer of a left foot from the edge of the box, he seemed to be closed down too easily.

Everyone’s allowed an off day at times, and with a more settled back four, the pressure on Ekwah and Dan Neil to look over their shoulders and help out won’t be as intense.

He did OK but by his own standards it wasn’t his best, and it was certainly a performance to learn from.

Michael Dunne says…

Fantastic full backs

Trai Hume and Niall Huggins have arguably been our two best players this season.

Their commitment, work ethic and general high standard of play has been very pleasing. In particular, it’s fantastic to see how much Hume has progressed since the first game I saw him play against AFC Wimbledon away in League One

In my opinion, he’s a future Sunderland captain in the making.

Nazariy Rusyn continues to improve

Rusyn’s flashes of promise are appearing regularly.

I’ve been enthused by his progress over the last few weeks and if he can get a goal soon, he’ll hopefully continue to build on his decent performances.

His movement at times has been very good but there are still moments where he’s on a different wavelength to his teammates. One would assume this will come the more he plays.

Midfield slackness

Dan Neil and Pierre Ekwah seemed to forget they were kicking off at 12:30pm, as their first half performance was so sloppy.

They often put our new defensive pairing under pressure, which made Nectar Triantis and Jenson Seelt appear all the more vulnerable.

No goals from strikers

All I want before Christmas is a goal from one of our four strikers, please!

Based on yesterday’s performance, we’re getting closer and closer to it happening.

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


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