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Talking Points: Last-gasp Sunderland steal a point from Millwall!

Despite being kicked from pillar to post against Gary Rowett’s team, the Lads rallied and snatched an equaliser through a brave header from Dennis Cirkin

So, we DO have a striker!

Much was made of the January transfer window, and in particular the lack of activity on deadline day.

The season-ending injury suffered by Ross Stewart would’ve put anxiety-ridden fans on high alert, with many on social media involved in the furore caused by the fact that no more centre forwards arrived.

However, Joe Gelhardt reminded us that we do have a striker and consequently, are in a better situation than we were for much of the first half of the season.

It was an impossible debut for the Leeds loanee, with Millwall dominating and so much of the game played in our half.

It might’ve been the way the game developed but in the glimpses I saw of Gelhardt, he looks to be a different type of forward, coming a bit deeper for the ball rather than looking to play off the shoulder or to run the channels.

Although it’s very early days, we can be calm about the fact that we do actually have a striker, but we might have to compromise on our style of play in order to get the best out of him.

Gelhardt was well and truly thrown into the lion’s den for his debut!

Delight and despair for Dennis Cirkin

Fair play to Cirkin, who’s fast becoming a Sunderland hero.

One of our best performers before injury sidelined him, it was great to see him return to action in the second half.

The introduction of both himself and Alex Pritchard certainly had a positive impact, and although still rather disjointed, we were able to enjoy sustained possession in the Millwall half and in wide areas.

Then, just as Cirkin was settling in, he fell on the ultimate double-edged sword!

An equalising goal and a concussive right uppercut was his reward for busting a gut to get onto the end of a Pritchard free kick. It was a goal to remember, but one he probably won’t.

It was the beginning of a fightback from us, but sadly the end of a fourteen-minute cameo from Cirkin.

The only silver lining (if a blow to the head can defined as that) is that it wasn’t a muscle or a ligament injury to put him out for a sustained period of time.

Dennis Cirkin takes a right uppercut Tyson Fury would have been proud of when equalising for the lads!

Millwall neutralise our attacking threats

In a fight, they say that speed defeats power.

Yesterday was certainly a scrap, but it was the home side who had the better of the contest, if not the result.

Once again, we fielded a young, agile and pacy starting eleven with an average age of twenty two, but it was the bigger, more experienced and more physical hosts who had the upper hand.

Millwall closed the gaps, threw themselves about and were patient but strong in the tackle as they nullified the likes of Amad, Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts.

Any joy that they were able to create was quickly snuffed out with Gary Rowett’s men happy to defend cynically as a last resort.

They suffocated our midfield, denying both Edouard Michut and Dan Neil the time and space they crave to ignite our attacks, and turned to the dark arts of defending when required.

The lineup and the game plan was an antidote to the sting of our front four. It’s the perfect way to play against us but thankfully, I don’t think there are many teams in the Championship who have that capability.

Millwall v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - The Den Photo by Ben Whitley/PA Images via Getty Images

Anthony Patterson- a modern-day Jekyll and Hyde

To use a quote from the novel, ‘Man is not truly one but truly two’, and nothing truer could be said about our number one right now.

My current hypothesis is that there are two Anthony Pattersons, but only one can exist in this reality at a time.

As ‘Jekyll Patterson’ is pulling off world-class saves and comfortably collecting crosses to relieve pressure, ‘Hyde Patterson’ is playing the same game in an alternate universe. The two trade places in our dimension too quickly for the human eye to see, with ‘Hyde Patterson’ appearing at the most unfortunate times.

After getting away with spilling a relatively unthreatening shot for George Honeyman to tap in, he was hesitant in coming out of the box to head a ball clear and was late in deciding to close down Duncan Watmore, narrowly avoiding disaster in both.

At his best, Patterson is a match-winner in his own right and inspires confidence in the defence. When at his worst, however, he looks as shaky, nervous and unreliable as the Camps, Steeles and Matthews’ of the world.

He’s young and bound to continue to improve, but I’m starting to have real concerns that a lack of genuine competition is stifling his development and subconsciously causing lapses in concentration.

Patterson (Hyde) fumbles the ball to tee up Honeyman for a tap-in.

An important point gained!

There’s no denying this was a massive point for the Lads. I don't think we necessarily deserved it, and I couldn’t care less.

I can’t remember the last time I was so pleased with a draw. Norwich, Preston and Swansea all lost on Saturday, so by avoiding defeat we’ve crept into ninth place and with a chance of sneaking into the playoffs with a win at home to Reading next weekend.

There won’t be many teams who face Millwall twice this season and end up with four points, but we entered the lion’s den, stole a point and as a result, have done just that.

Millwall v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - The Den Photo by Ben Whitley/PA Images via Getty Images


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