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Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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What were the positives and negatives from Sunderland’s draw with Rotherham?

Despite falling behind to a Sam Clucas strike, the Lads took a point from the Millers thanks to another Jack Clarke goal on Friday night. What did our writers make of the game?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says…

Four points from six on the road

A draw was probably a fair result on a night when we weren’t quite at our best and all things considered, four points from two away games at Hull City and Rotherham in three days is certainly not a bad return.

Signs of more to come

We dominated the first twenty minutes and excelled in the final twenty, but there were large spells where we weren’t quite firing.

Rotherham got some joy from their low block, as they grew in confidence and forced Anthony Patterson into some fine saves and eventually took the lead with a great volley from Sam Clucas.

The intensity that had been lacking was evident in the last twenty minutes, with Alex Pritchard once again making an inspired impact from the bench with an assist and joining Jack Clarke in pulling the strings.

Frustration in front of goal

We had plenty of the ball but struggled to find a breakthrough.

The striker situation is well documented but at least we seem to be taking more shots, with Dan Ballard and Luke O’Nien going close in the second half, rather than trying to walk the ball into the net.

Our decision-making could still be better, but with the likes of Abdoullah Ba and Adil Aouchiche getting more game time and Timothée Pembélé making his debut from the bench, hopefully things will only keep improving.

Patrick Roberts’ injury

Much has been said about Roberts’ lack of end product this season but the lad really is a talent and losing such a key man after less than fifteen minutes was a huge blow.

Let’s hope he’s fit for Monday.

Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - AESSEAL New York Stadium Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Kevin Campbell says…

Our league position is promising

Despite our form being average at best since mid-November, we still find ourselves seventh in the table and well in the playoff mix.

If we have a good transfer window and Michael Beale can begin to get his ideas across in a positive way, our promotion bid is still on.

Jack Clarke shines again

For however much longer he dons the red and white, he’s truly spectacular to watch.

Even on an abysmal night on the whole, he still showed flashes of brilliance and if we can find a striker to limit his goalscoring pressure, he’ll only get better.

He may be on his way to being the Championship player of the season. He’s just that good.

An over-reliance on Clarke

If it wasn’t for our talisman, we’d be sunk at the minute, because until Alex Pritchard’s introduction, our game plan was ‘Get the ball to Jack and pray he saves us’.

In fairness, he’s done that more often than not, but it can’t be the game plan over the course of a season. Teams are already throwing two and three bodies at him to slow our attack, and it’s working.

We’ve got to have other players step up, and for the coaching staff to find suitable tactics for the squad provided to them.

Striking issues

Get the strikers up to scratch or bring in a striker who’s trusted to put the ball in the back of the net, because our attacking players are too dangerous not to have a focal point.

We need our Championship version of Ross Stewart and fast.


Malc Dugdale says…

One point is better than none

After the way we played for most of the game, it could be argued that we didn’t deserve anything, but we managed to bring home a point.

Stepping up for the last fifteen minutes like that isn’t really good enough for me, but it was enough to take a share of the spoils.

We expected very little at Hull and did well to get all three, so four points from two games is a welcome haul.

Pritchard shows his worth

We were a different team when Pritchard came on, and despite Adil Aouchiche deserving a chance, I do think Pritchard deserves to start once he’s fully recovered from the illness he recently suffered.

We really missed someone with effective creative ideas in the midfield in the first half and although he isn’t one of our many wonder kids, his vision and accuracy made a real difference for me.

Well done, Pritch.

Playing into the opponents’ hands?

I’m starting to get worried that we seem to play down to the level of the poorer opponents we meet. We did the same at Bristol City and many other places this season, including at home against supposedly lesser opponents.

When we face stronger opponents, we really step up, but whenever we play the basement battlers, we seem to get dragged into a scrappy affair, which isn’t what we’re about.

I’d like to see us resume our flowing beautiful football as soon as possible, because we’re the boxer in this league, not the street fighter.

If we keep getting sucked into messy battles, we won’t come out anywhere near as well as we can if we fight our own way.

A poor display from Ba

Although he made a couple of half-decent runs in the second half, Abdoullah Ba was below par last night.

Losing Patrick Roberts might not bother those who’ve criticised his lack of goals and his tendency to overplay, but one thing Roberts does bring is forward momentum. If it wasn’t for him and Jack Clarke, we’d spend most games going sidewards and backwards.

In contrast, whenever Ba tries to get forward, he loses the ball more often than not.

Roberts’ injury may mean we need another option and if Ba comes good, that’s great, but we may need to consider other options as he really hasn’t taken his chance, and we have others who are crying out for a game out wide.

Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - AESSEAL New York Stadium Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

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