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Sunderland v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship

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Two Up, Two Down: What were the positives & negatives from Sunderland’s win vs Birmingham?

The Lads rallied from 0-1 down against the Blues on Saturday and claimed a vital win in the race for the top six. What did our writers make of the game?

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

Andrew Smithson says...

Set piece pressure

Sunderland’s attacking threat in open play has been great all season, but it was nice to see us force a few corners during the first half and create a bit of pressure.

It paid off as well, as we got back into the game just before the break with a good routine and that set us up well for the second half.

Trai Hume doing the business

It’s sometimes easy to forget that Hume is still fairly new to full time football as his performances have been very good.

He stepped in at centre back and continued that form before switching position again later in the game, and it was nice to see his efforts rewarded with a goal.

We’ve had to make so many changes in defence this season and now Dennis Cirkin is suspended there’ll be more to come, but the flexibility and effort of those available has always been encouraging.

Having a paddy

I was gutted for Patrick Roberts when he missed that chance in the second half.

It would’ve been a lovely goal but the main point is that he’s had a superb season and I’d like to see things go for him.

On the other hand, his reaction was very good and we went on to win the match regardless, so no harm done.

Crashing down to earth

After going ahead through a fantastic goal, we were flying and I fancied us to go and get a couple more.

To then have the mood change so quickly afterwards was a real kick in the teeth and at that point I was worried that we were about to see our hard work go to waste.

I’ll need to see Cirkin’s second yellow again but either way, the response was superb and we saw some very astute game management, including some classic ‘Patterson flops’ from our always impressive goalkeeper. When that failed, the lads were throwing themselves into blocks and challenges.

I love how this group can help each other out of bother and also I love their energy, but it was a nail biting finish when I’d been envisioning something a lot more comfortable.

Sunderland v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dan Harrison says...

The introduction of Joe Anderson

Having made a late cameo after Dennis Cirkin’s red card, Anderson looked composed and relaxed when slotting in for the final ten minutes of the game.

When our backs were against the wall, he dealt with the threats fired into the box well and almost released Joe Gelhardt for a chance late on.

Although we’ve not seen much of him following his January move from Everton, there’s a lot to like moving into next season.

Positives for Joe Gelhardt

Introduced in the sixty third minute, the Leeds loanee produced some nice interchanges of play when we were pushing for a winner in the second half.

In particular, a lovely one-two with Patrick Roberts almost made an immediate impact with Roberts blazing the effort over.

Gelhardt showed his usual high work rate and lead the press late on, but his link up play however is what really stood out and could bode well for the final games of his loan spell.

A disappointing exit for Dennis Cirkin

Although receiving a red card is never good, Tahith Chong had given Cirkin a battle, resulting in the left back spending most of his time on the back foot.

Although the suspension is only for one match, the bigger worry may be the injury he sustained in receiving his second yellow.

Following a collision with Chong, he left the field clutching his face with a suspected broken nose, and it could be a worry for Tony Mowbray, given Cirkin’s previous head injuries.

A lack of depth in central defence

Sunderland have been riddled with injury problems this season and the lack of a true central defensive partner for Danny Batth really showed yesterday.

Trai Hume has slotted into the centre back position in Luke O’Nien’s absence, but he was dragged into awkward positions on a few occasions against Birmingham.

We ultimately looked much more comfortable after O’Nien slotted into the back four in the second half, but Mowbray will have concerns about how we’ll line up defensively should Batth or O’Nien suffer any injury problems in the final games of the season.

Malc Dugdale says...

Amazing Amad!

After thinking we were wandering towards another two points being dropped, Amad’s touch of class to beat a couple of men, create space and shoot was wonderful to watch.

We were sat right behind the line of his shot and there was no stopping it. I’m saving up all my wishes that we can retain him for another season, as he’s incredible at this level.

Anthony Patterson impresses

Patterson played very well yesterday and he made a number of saves from attempts on goal that could’ve spoiled our party had he not been on it.

He also helped the lads to manage the game well, including ten minutes or more with a man less after Dennis Cirkin’s second yellow card.

A great performance from the local lad.

First half frustration

We should’ve scored early before we went behind after some sloppy play.

Alex Pritchard, Lynden Gooch and Jack Clarke were all guilty of giving the ball away too cheaply and we have to learn from today, or else we won’t last long in the playoffs if we get there!

Dennis Cirkin’s suspension

Cirkin has only just come back and he’ll now miss out on Tuesday night.

I’m also not sure if his nose is OK as he took a fair whack during the contact that sent him for an early bath.

We could do without stretching our paper-thin squad even further so hopefully he’s OK and we can pick up three points against Huddersfield without him.

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


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