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Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship

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Talking Points: Clarke’s brilliance, poor game management, and another home game without a win

All of the talking points from a dramatic day at the Stadium of Light!

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

That’s entertainment!

First and foremost, it was a really entertaining game at the Stadium of Light yesterday – yes, we should have seen the game out, which we’ll come on to, but it was a great spectacle and should help attract more people to come and watch us play.

A certain percentage of our fans will turn up regardless of the style of play and the entertainment on show, but for others, it’s essential to be entertained and see a good game of football – and yesterday was it!

A crowd of more than 40,000 for a game broadcast live on TV just shows how attractive we are to watch, and hopefully, that will persuade people who, for whatever reason, pick and choose their games to make the trip more often.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

But our naivety showed...

However, while it was an entertaining game, it shouldn’t have been that entertaining!

We were naive at the back and left far too many gaps in behind for Hull – who’d only scored seven in their past 11 games – to exploit.

Our game management was poor today, and mistakes by Trai Hume and Pierre Ekwah simply invited Hull back into the game, while at the other end, Jack Clarke spurned a golden opportunity to kill the game off.

Both mistakes were completely avoidable, and hopefully, Hume and Ekwah will learn from them.

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

Home record is becoming an issue – how do we resolve it?

Our home record this season reads played 20, won 6, drawn 7, lost 7 – and only Wigan have conceded more goals at home than we have.

The Stadium of Light should be a difficult place for teams to come and play, but we often don’t make it so – in fact, Reading were the last team we beat at home, and that was two months ago.

We’ve conceded way too many goals, and we need to change that form round – and soon.

If we have any aspirations of going up next season, we need to be far more effective at home – but how?

It could simply be a case of needing a striker in the mould of Ross Stewart who can not only lead the line but defends from the front too, and also adds some strong defensive aerial strength, or it may be we need to be a little more pragmatic at home, as we’re conceding far too many.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship
Are we too easy to play against at home?
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dan Ballard a big miss in defence

Dan Ballard was a huge miss yesterday, and news he’s out for the rest of the season seems to be the final nail in our fast-fading playoff aspirations.

I’d say he and Stewart are our two best players, and having them sidelined for such large chunks of the season has had a huge impact on our campaign.

Luke O’Nien and Danny Batth – who were imperious against Burnley – didn't offer the same solidity yesterday, and we missed the Northern Ireland international greatly.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

A Jack Clarke masterclass!

I thought Clarke was superb yesterday – he scored one, set up two and got brought down for the penalty (which I thought was a definite penalty by the way – a clear push in the back).

He should have scored another, too, but we can forgive him that one.

Clarke’s had a great season; to get into double figures from the wing is impressive, and he’s a constant threat.

Yes, he can be frustrating at times, but that comes in the job description of a winger, and he offers so much. He’s had a brilliant season – which is really his first full season as a pro – and is still only 22.

There’s plenty more to come from him, and it’s been brilliant to see him develop over the past few months.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light
Superb from Jack Clarke
Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Small change, big difference

The lads wore red shorts yesterday as part of the Foundation of Light’s ‘small change, big difference’ campaign.

It was strange seeing us in red shorts – something we almost had the ‘pleasure’ of a few seasons ago under Tony Davison insisted we change back to black – and it did prove that a small change does, indeed, make a big difference.

Check out the FOL’s campaign and, if can afford to donate anything, please do.

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

Playoff dream now over - do we need to be concerned about our ‘relegation form’?

Over the past couple of months, we’ve won only one in nine – and, while we’ve had a tough run of fixtures and have a bad injury list, it’s a poor run that’s completely scuppered our playoff chances.

Seven points from a possible 27 simply isn’t good enough, and Tony Mowbray has form for his teams going through this type of spell every year.

Nine games is pretty much a fifth of a season, and if that played out over the course of a campaign we’d be comfortably relegated.

Thankfully we’ve amassed enough points earlier in the season not to be looking over our shoulders, but we need to get back to winning ways soon because it’ll quickly begin to affect the players’ confidence.


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