clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Sunderland v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship

Filed under:

Two Up, Two Down: What were the big positives and negatives from Sunderland 1-1 Brizzle City?

A late penalty for the visitors secured them a share of the spoils after a closely-fought encounter on Saturday. What did our writers make of the game?

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says…

A great second half atmosphere

Letting points slip so late in the day is always going to be frustrating but I can’t feel too annoyed because during the second half, we experienced the Stadium of Light at its best.

The players were working their socks off and the fans went with them. It’s when having big crowds can make a difference, and the whole culture and momentum at the club has made match days a joy again.

Roll on Rotherham United on Tuesday!

Seeing the bigger picture

I’ve seen quite a few fans say that we seemed a little bit off our game, but I was quite impressed.

The lads got stuck in and were helping their teammates out when they made mistakes, but not only do we have an incredible team spirit, it’s being matched by some real talent.

I’ve been left shaking my head during recent games at some of the touches and passages of play we’ve pulled off and it was the same again here. Patrick Roberts killing a high ball with one touch and Jack Clarke’s goal were the standout moments for me, but there were many others too.

Results have been very good of late and so have our performances.

We’re a young side having to make do without some of our senior players, and yet we’ve come away feeling slightly disappointed at ‘only’ drawing.

1-1 used to be the dreaded scoreline in League One, but those days seem a million miles off and even when we fail to win, there’s plenty to appreciate.

Conceding a penalty

We’ve had a habit over the years of gifting goals or points to out-of-form opponents, and whilst that has improved of late, there was a nagging feeling of borderline inevitability that we’d be the first team to concede a penalty to City in well over a year.

I was quite close to the incident and I felt that Trai Hume was the one that had been fouled initially, causing him to fall and inadvertently trip his man, but a few others have said it was the right call.

Either way, I do have to say that I was otherwise encouraged by the referee.

I’ve bemoaned what I perceive as naivety or a failure to clamp down on gamesmanship but it seemed as if the officials were trying to let things flow and were wise to some of the theatrics and time-wasting from Nigel Pearson’s team.

All in the timing

Did we catch City at a bad time?

They’ve been doing well of late and I thought they looked decent at points.

It certainly helped make it quite an open affair, and yet their league position suggests they’re one of the poorer sides in the division, so I’m wondering what to make of them.

On that evidence, they could potentially move up the table but if this turns out to be a bit of an anomaly, I’ll be a bit miffed and will wish we’d played them a few weeks later instead!

Sunderland v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says…

Danny and Dan shine once again

Both Dan Ballard and Danny Batth were outstanding once again in the heart of our defence.

They put their heads and bodies on the line time and time again, and it’s reassuring to have two centre halves who are both aerially dominant.

They’ve formed a very effective partnership which almost helped us to pick up another clean sheet.

Anthony Patterson impresses again

Patterson came close to saving a second penalty in as many games and also had to sweep up several awkward balls on the edge of his area.

The young goalkeeper’s distribution is improving and I thought he dealt with everything that came his way admirably.

Signs of fatigue

We continued to play our exciting brand of football in very difficult weather conditions.

However, as we did last Saturday at home to Reading, we looked leggy yet our players continued to run themselves into the ground for the cause.

Tony Mowbray has been rotating his squad in order to navigate this heavy run of fixtures but perhaps now is the time to make four or five changes to keep it fresh.

Pierre Ekwah, Luke O’Nien, Alex Pritchard, Abdoullah Ba and Dennis Cirkin could all potentially start at Rotherham on Tuesday.

An inevitable equaliser?

We had four or five chances to put the game to bed but I felt we rode our luck at times, not just when Bristol hit the inside of the post in the first half, but also as we tired after the break and failed to stop the visitors attacking down the flanks and getting crosses into the box.

The penalty was frustrating but I was fearing the worst for ten minutes before that happened.

Kingsley Reavley says…

A rock solid central defensive partnership

It was another quality showing from Dan Ballard and Danny Batth, and if there’s a better centre back pairing in this league, I’ve yet to see one.

Completely dominant on the ground and in the air throughout, they seem to have an excellent partnership and can snuff out danger before it becomes a real threat.

With Anthony Patterson continuing to excel, it’s quite the trio, and a formidable opponent for any attack.

Sunderland show their adaptability

The football intelligence and adaptability for such a young and inexperienced side is outstanding.

With key players injured and a hectic fixture schedule, a lot is being asked of the players yet they continue to step up when asked.

They’re all pulling in the same direction and covering for each other when needed, and the intricate passing, positional changes and the likes of Aji Alese playing as a hybrid full back/striker is all being made to look seamless.

Credit to Tony Mowbray for instilling such belief in the side and helping to mold them into a hard to beat, yet very attack-minded team.

No focal point in attack

It felt at times like we were able to repel most of Bristol City’s attacks with relative ease, but it was in vain as the ball didn’t stick up top when cleared. This meant that pressure was constantly building on our defence.

Naturally, having so many technically gifted but physically slight players doesn’t help us in this regard and the loss of Ross Stewart is amplified. We need to find a way to fix this or it’s going to lead to more late goals being conceded.

Sadly, Joe Gelhardt’s Sunderland’s career has yet to get going.

The effort is clearly there but the longer he goes without a goal with more his confidence will suffer. However, we have to stick with him as he’s a talented player and the only option we’ve got.

A late sting in the tail

Trai Hume has a lot of credit in the bank for his recent performances but the penalty was certainly avoidable.

Similar to the one against QPR in midweek, on both occasions the forward got half a yard and panic set in, followed by a silly challenge that had no realistic chance of success.

Hindsight’s a wonderful thing but simply letting the player get a shot away at goal would’ve been the better option.

Sunderland v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Michael Dunne says…

Jack Clarke delivers again!

It’s great to watch Clarke at the moment.

He’s playing with real confidence and his goals have been crucial in recent weeks. I never understood the criticism that he was receiving at times, because after all, Clarke is a winger, and wingers by nature can be frustrating because they won’t always take the easy option.

We’re lucky to have him.

Patrick Roberts stands out

I can’t get enough of Roberts at the moment.

You can see that he’s loving his football and his intricate play, positivity on the ball and willingness to take people on are a joy to watch. We haven’t had a player like him for a long time, and he’s certainly Premier League quality.

I feel that Tony Mowbray has been a great mentor for him and you can see that Roberts wants to repay the faith that the head coach has shown in him.

A frustrating late penalty conceded

It’s a pity that we let a goal in at the end.

Whilst the performance wasn’t great, I felt we were marginally deserving of the victory and with teams around us winning, it’s a shame that we dropped points.

It’s going to put a little more pressure on the big games in March.

No goal for Joe Gelhardt

I felt sorry for Gelhardt.

He worked very hard and provided a great assist for our goal but he just couldn’t get on the scoresheet himself.

The longer time goes on, the more of a talking point it becomes, so hopefully he can put it to bed sooner rather than later.

Sunderland v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Roker Rapport Podcast: Reacting to the sacking of Sunderland gaffer Tony Mowbray!


ITHICS Fanzine: Mowbray’s sacking wasn’t a surprise - the writing has been on the wall for weeks


Tony Mowbray’s departure from Sunderland seemed inevitable, but it’s a sad loss!

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report