Dan Harrison says...
Following his suspension last week, Dennis Cirkin was restored to the starting eleven and what a fantastic decision it turned out to be.
Looking composed at the back when dealing with the dangerous Jed Wallace, who he limited to very few opportunities, he also popped up with two goals to secure the three points.
It was the icing on the cake for Cirkin, who took his goals spectacularly well and was fully deserving of his man of the match award.
Composure and mentality
For such a young side, we showed a tremendous amount of composure and tenacity despite going a goal down just before half time.
We looked assured at the back and for a team full of individuals who’ve never been in a position like this before, we demonstrated fantastic character and it breeds confidence going into the final two games of the season.
Some reckless challenges
Despite the penalty being awarded to West Brom in somewhat unfortunate circumstances, we diced with death on a few occasions with some sneaky fouls and risky pushes in the box that another referee may have punished us for.
Going forward, we need to make sure that we add a little more disguise to the dirty side of the game as we sometimes made it look a little too obvious and in turn could’ve risked conceding a second penalty.
No clean sheet
Although we came from behind and showed great character in grabbing a winner on the road, the lack of a clean sheet is somewhat of a worry going into playoff season, as the defensively efficient sides always to tend to fare better in those scenarios.
We’ll want to make sure we stay tight at the back for the remaining two fixtures so should the playoffs become a reality, we head into them with a tight defensive structure as well as backing ourselves going forward.
Jon Guy says...
A real squad effort
We played against a team who’ve not lost at home for twelve games and have only conceded three goals, and we controlled the majority of the game.
Every player put a shift in, and we kept our heads and played the way we wanted to. If you consider the injuries we’re dealing with, it was a brilliant performance and the playoffs are becoming a real possibility.
Super Dennis Cirkin!
What a performance at both ends of the pitch from Cirkin.
His goals were so well taken and he was where he needed to be when West Brom were putting the pressure on.
He’ll be a massive part of the club going forward.
More poor refereeing decisions
I thought the referee started the game well but the decision for the penalty was shocking.
The pressure and atmosphere got to him and once again, the decisions went against us.
Some slack passing
If we can have one complaint, it’s that our final pass was poor on occasions.
Abdoullah Ba could and should’ve set Amad away, and the wrong choice ended a break where we had five players against two.
Admittedly it’s very picky, given that it was a brilliant performance.
Malc Dugdale says…
Finding a way to win
Despite having lost another defender in Danny Batth, we defended really well.
It was backs-to-the-wall stuff at times but given our injury issues, to only concede via a dodgy penalty was great to see.
Our resilience in the face of so many injuries is a delight to experience.
Cirkin steps up
I thought Cirkin may have been absent yesterday but it was great to see him available and to net two cracking goals to get us all three points.
The way he and Jack Clarke are combining again is wonderful to watch. In the past they’ve overlapped and interchanged with each other very well and this was another great demonstration of Cirkin’s attacking ability.
If he can keep popping up like this and scoring when the recognised forwards are being marked tightly, so much the better.
Yet more poor officiating
Thankfully, West Brom’s penalty didn’t prove the difference but I have to agree with the commentators that it was the wrong decision.
Other than that, I thought the referee did OK and I believe the linesman actually gave the penalty anyway. The referee was regularly trying to play the advantage and allowing play to flow, and if necessary, he was going back to dish out yellow cards.
A decent performance from the man in the middle but he shouldn’t have been swayed by the assistant as it was never a spot kick in a million years.
No second negative!
I’m just over the moon with where we are now and I can’t pick any more faults with my team.
We’re in the top six and very much in the hunt for a playoff berth, and although I don’t think our decimated squad will get very far, if they can get experience of playoff football and go out in the semis, it’ll benefit them for next season.
Mark Wood says...
A great game
Early in the second half, I already thought that that win, lose or draw, it was turning into a great game.
We deserved the win because we were the best team in the first half and the better team in the second half. On the other hand, I didn’t think that West Brom brought a lot to the table, and they looked pretty poor.
They may have had more shots, but half of them came from a fifteen second manic spell and if both teams finish in the playoffs, I’d be happy to face them if they’re in this kind of form.
A positive ending at the Hawthorns
You can pick out so many things from either the overall team performance or individual performances, but I’m going to go completely left field and remind everyone of a trip to West Brom from years ago.
It was just one of many awful moments in the decline of Sunderland AFC when we had the infamous scenes of Paolo Di Canio’s spell dying on the pitch after a 3-0 defeat at the Hawthorns ten years ago, with his exchange with the fans making us the laughing stock of the country.
Yesterday, that ghost was well and truly exorcised, with the final whistle bringing the scenes of our fans lavishing congratulations on a team that never stopped believing that they would be rewarded over the whole ninety minutes.
Being a Sunderland fan now is a long way from what it was then.
Questionable tactics from West Brom
As I said before, I thought West Brom were poor and had little more to offer than some underhand tactics and conning throughout the game.
Starting as they intended to go on by sweeping away Joe Gelhardt’s legs at every opportunity, they were summed up by Semi Ajayi throwing himself to the deck after every slight piece of contact like a sack of spuds falling from the top shelf in a supermarket.
Similarly, John Swift was on his way down with a look of agony on his face before Luke O’Nien had tried to take a swing in his direction.
My biggest smile of the afternoon was when Cirkin headed in the equaliser and I think it may have been Gelhardt who immediately shoved his marker to the deck!
A different kind of pressure?
After being in the mindset of putting our feet up and enjoying the last few games of the season with no pressure to worry about, we’re now in the top six.
It’s nice to have but that’s Sunderland for you; it’s ‘all or nothing’ and never mid table serenity!