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Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Two Up, Two Down: What were the big positives and negatives from Sunderland’s latest win?

The concession of an early goal didn’t faze the Lads on Saturday, and we eventually ran out 3-1 winners against Gareth Ainsworth’s team. What were the positives and negatives from the game?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says…

A sharper Sunderland attack

We’ve been fine for goals for some time now, and it’s pleasing to see how adaptable our players are when they’re pushed up, but having a more natural centre forward on the pitch in Mason Burstow certainly gives us another option and should help us in the coming weeks.

He seems big and strong, and having another focal point in the box will bring the best out of the team.

Going for broke

Tony Mowbray made a positive change at half time and it was great to see us being so brave and trying the force the issue once we’d levelled the game.

In the past, I think we may have seen a more cautious approach on the road, even against ten men, but we play without fear these days and we fully deserved to pick up a first away win of the season.

The starting eleven and substitutes all played a part; there would’ve been few complaints had we won by an even bigger margin, and the unbeaten run we’re starting to put together is becoming very encouraging.

More injury concerns

I seem to say this all the time, but I can’t get over how many injuries we pick up.

It was a real shame that we had to change a winning side ahead of kick off, and with a busy week on the horizon, the last thing we needed was an injury for Pierre Ekwah.

The changes we’re able to make from the bench suggests we have the depth to cope, and the recruitment team deserve credit for that, but I feel for lads like Dennis Cirkin and Bradley Dack when they have to drop out after contributing so much in recent weeks.

At least another constant - the curse of the ex-player - didn’t haunt us against QPR, but everybody seems to be working flat out and it’s a shame when their chances are being affected.

More woeful refereeing

We made use of the extra man very well in the second half and Jack Colback has to take responsibility for what he did, but I do wonder whether the referee could’ve done more before the red card to keep a lid on things.

There were a number of incidents where a caution would’ve been fully warranted, but letting QPR away with things only seemed to encourage more bad tackles and on a different day, Jobe could’ve been badly hurt.

There were also situations afterwards where the home side could have been punished more severely, but I do have to give our lads credit for keeping their cool in that respect.

QPR are an experienced outfit and seemed to be trying to provoke a reaction or bully the younger players at times, and the crowd were getting whipped up as well, but we stuck to the plan and got the job done when we could’ve easily wilted.

It made for a great atmosphere in the away end as people recognise that we are on the right track, but I do still fear that poor decision-making from refs will cost us at some point.

The changes to added time have been a big step forward and it suits sides like ourselves, but there’s still room for improvement in other aspects of officiating.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Anthony Gair says...

Sunderland’s second half performance

Absolutely tactically spot on from Tony Mowbray.

Letting the lads express themselves with the ball on the floor and lots of movement off the ball, with some exciting runs forward.

It was absolutely thrilling to watch and if we can play like that over ninety minutes for the remainder of the season, we get promoted.

Jobe Bellingham impresses again!

He’s going to be as special as his brother, isn’t he?

His air shot in the first half would’ve had other seventeen-year-olds cowering away and hiding from the ball, but not Jobe. His miss only ignited the fire inside him, with his creation of so much in the second half and playing largely up top with Mason Burstow.

If there are other teams watching him, they’re going to have to pay a fortune for us to let him leave.

Ba continues to shine

He had a sketchy start at the club and he looked really raw initially, but he’s gradually coming into his own at Sunderland.

He looks very much a ‘confidence player’, trying tricky little back heels in the box, swinging crosses in and playing defence-splitting balls. He also the post in the second half too, after Bellingham’s miss.

If he can do all of this when we’re not winning, we’ll have one hell of a player on our hands.

A slightly ropey first half

We looked downtrodden and outmuscled for the first twenty minutes, and then Jack Colback got sent off, then we had nothing for the next twenty minutes, either.

Alex Pritchard was the only player capable of understanding how to play against this lot, but we got the goal before half time and the rest is history, so I don’t want to dwell on it!

Malc Dugdale says...

The unbeaten run goes on

After three games unbeaten, we did well to come back from a goal down, although the extra man helped (cheers to the ginger Geordie).

That aside, I had no worries about this result after the first goal for them or before Jack Colback saw red.

We were always going to be too much for this lot. Gareth Ainsworth is out of his depth.

Delight for Ba

Abdoullah Ba had a great game and his control for his goal was lovely to see.

The ball from Adil Aouchiche was sweet too and we may be seeing the start of future links that we can benefit from.

A cracking day for the wide man.

An early exit for Ekwah

Hopefully the withdrawal of Pierre Ekwah was precautionary but to be fair, Alex Pritchard really took the chance and created loads in a different way.

His cross to Jobe was a valid assist for me and it’s great to see he’s ready to step in as needed, as expected. He’s a great professional.

Missed chances

We could’ve scored five or six but we didn’t quite have the cutting edge for a few chances.

I thought that Jobe was onside for his header and his side footer should have gone in too. Elsewhere, Ba hit the post and other opportunities went begging.

It’s great that we create so many, and if we manage to convert more we’re going to be flying. As it is we’re seventh and playing with confidence and team spirit.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images


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