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Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light

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Two Up, Two Down: What were the big positives & negatives from Sunlun’s performance v Reading?

After a tense and nervy affair on Saturday, Patrick Roberts’ winner eventually secured the three points. We asked our writers for their thoughts on the game

Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Gav says...

Superb substitutions

I love Tony Mowbray’s approach.

He’d rather go down swinging than not to try and have a go at all, and that was the case against Reading when he made the substitutions that turned the momentum of the game in our favour.

Luke O’Nien helped to up the tempo, Isaac Lihadji gave us a threat down the right, Alex Pritchard got stuck in and Jewison Bennette pulled their full-backs wide and gave us room to penetrate where necessary.

Also, Aji Alese went central when we needed someone to win the knockdowns - it was chaotic but it led to us getting the chance which we scored from.

Gold stars for Mr Mowbray. It was a bold strategy but it paid off.

Ballard stands tall

I’ve already seen enough of Dan Ballard to be able to confidently say that he’s Premier League quality.

He handled two very experienced strikers with ease alongside Trai Hume and Danny Batth, and I love his approach to attacking the ball and winning tackles.

More laughable officiating

Can anyone explain to me how, after that first half from Reading, the officials thought that only two minutes needed adding on before the break?

Why didn’t the referee nip it in the bud early and book some of their players for time wasting?

I hate when refs let opposition teams referee the game for them.

Taxi for Carroll!

I guess this is only a negative for Reading but I actually felt sorry for Andy Carroll, watching him struggle to run five yards at the pace of a snail.

Despite him being a Mag, I’ve admired him as a player over the years and he was always brilliant in the air, attacking every ball like it was a matter of life and death.

That wasn’t the case yesterday, as he spent more time on his arse than he did in control of the ball.

Andy, retire- for your own good.

Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says...

Earning your stripes

It’s a bit of an odd one, but I was looking up Reading’s kit just before the game and was very impressed with their design inspiration.

The sleeve pattern includes ‘climate stripes’ to reflect the University of Reading’s research into climate change, and it’s pleasing to see clubs trying to raise awareness of important topics.

As it happens, I really love our home kit this season and was pleased to find it included a percentage of recycled fibres.

Releasing kits every season does seem problematic in some regards, but if clubs are showing a bit of responsibility and trying to negate some of the issues we face in the world, that can only be a good thing.

New direction, new fans

I love watching this team at the moment.

They give their all and they want to do well for themselves and the club. It’s really heartening to see us go down this path, but I was also chuffed on a personal level that a family member asked to come with us for the first time in ages.

They’ve been slowly taking an interest in football again and because Sunderland have junior prices set at an affordable level, getting them a ticket wasn’t an issue.

That’s great for us because we get to spend time doing something we love with people we love, but Sunderland benefit from it too. We bought more food in the concourses than usual, and after being asked to take them into the club shop, another kit has been sold.

Late wins and well-priced tickets will hopefully mean fans old and new will not only want to keep coming to the Stadium of Light, they’ll be able to afford it as well.

Bad language in the Family Zone

This has been a problem for a while now, but it reached a new level on Wednesday against Fulham and because we had someone extra with us against Reading, it stood out more.

I’ve spoken about it before on here and I’ve challenged people directly and will be raising it with the club again, but some people need to be more self-aware.

I’m not on about isolated, heat-of-the-moment stuff. Instead, I’m on about constant usage in front of kids that’s clearly making themselves and their parents uncomfortable.

Passion can be shown in other ways and if people can’t act appropriately around youngsters, they need to move to another section of the ground.

Time for a change

I know it’s old ground, but referees need to get to grips with time wasting.

Tony Mowbray was rightly unhappy against Fulham and it was the same again here. The time being added on doesn’t even cover substitutions, never mind anything else, and to let teams get away with such obvious tricks for eighty-plus minutes before doing anything about it makes officials look embarrassingly naive and weak.

Stamp it out early and let the side that actually wants to try and win it have a go. I’m just pleased that on this occasion it backfired and the Lads gained three hard-fought points.

Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Jon Guy says...

The two Dans

Both Danny Batth and Dan Ballard were immense.

They looked assured throughout the game, and they’re building a brilliant partnership on which the team can build. Batth is a real influence on this young side, and Ballard leads by example.

Positive changes from Tony Mowbray

I have to say that Mowbray made some very positive changes yesterday.

There was no way we were accepting anything but a win against a Reading side who arrived and stuck ten men behind the ball when not in possession.

We eventually had five forward players on, he pushed Aji Alese up as well, and we reaped the rewards.

A slow start

We took forty minutes to look anything like the team we actually are.

If we’d played like that against a side who had more ambition, we could’ve been out of the game by half time.

We might’ve been feeling the effects of the FA Cup game, but we have two fixtures in the next seven days and he may need to change things up on Tuesday.

Not taking our chances

We could’ve put the game to bed early in the second half after squandering some decent chances.

It’s slightly harsh on the team as we played well, but we could’ve regretted not being more clinical when the opportunities came our way.

Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

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