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Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Two Up Two Down: What were the positives & negatives from Sunderland’s performance at Blackburn?

In an enthralling contest at Ewood Park, the Lads secured a victory with goals from Dan Neil and a brace from Jack Clarke. What did our writers make of the game?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says…

Bodies on the line

You can’t fault the effort these lads are putting in.

They worked their socks off and repeatedly threw themselves into challenges and blocks.

It was the foundation that allowed them to showcase their skills in the attacking third, and although we could’ve easily wilted, we got stuck in, got ourselves into a winning position and made the last few minutes a joy to watch.

Sunderland are on a roll and there are so many positives to take.

Sunderland’s high press

I lost count of how many times we won the ball high up the pitch but it was great to see.

It helped us to put pressure on Blackburn a few times, and it led to the goal that settled it. Dan Neil was superb and I think he won the ball with a beautifully-timed tackle.

From there, we broke in a flash and before you knew it, Jack Clarke was showing some great composure and getting a fully deserved second goal for himself and third for the team.

Shush yourself!

I obviously missed something as I was perplexed by Harry Leonard doing the ‘finger to mouth’ gesture when he scored.

It always comes across as a bit sad, but I think it was clear that we’d got under their skin.

The late foul on Clarke was their frustration coming out because he’d taken the mick all night, and I like how we’re handling ourselves in high pressure situations.

There’s devilment when we need it, but steely determination too, and the way they all piled in after that foul shows the spirit this team has. These boys are playing for each other, and for their mates and the club right now, and I’m loving it.

A bit too open at times

It was no surprise that Blackburn scored when Dan Ballard was off the pitch.

He’s an absolute rock and the last-ditch defending both he and the rest of the back four pulled off was top class.

In a perfect world, the goal line clearances wouldn’t need to be so frequent.

It was easy for Rovers to get into our box at times and whilst we stemmed the tide as the first half went on, there were instances after the break where we were a bit too eager and gave the ball away instead of just playing safe.

I understand that player availability and the age of our side makes those things inevitable, but it does make for nervy viewing.

On a night of so many strong individual performances and a great team effort, this was the one slight negative, but overall the picture is rosy and the strides we’re making can give us real hope.

Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

Andy Thompson says…

Jobe looking the part

I thought Jobe Bellingham had an excellent game.

He was a calming influence and he played with a maturity beyond his years. I lost count of how many times he broke up the play and got us moving up the pitch, and he was also able to create openings with some very clever play.

He seems to get better with each game and he’ll be an influential player for us this season if he regularly turns in performances of that nature.

Some great saves from Patterson

In the first twenty minutes, Patto made some excellent stops to keep the scores level.

We’d been second best up until the penalty was awarded and the game could’ve changed course if wasn’t for him.

A slight lack of steel

We had a Pierre Ekwah-shaped hole in the middle of the park last night.

We got cut open far too regularly in the first half before Dan Neil and Alex Pritchard started to get a foothold.

It was an open game that I felt Ekwah could’ve excelled in, so hopefully he gets back to full fitness soon and can add some steel to our midfield.

Burstow firing blanks

I thought Mason Burstow was ineffective at Ewood Park.

He’s new to the squad but I thought he looked off the pace. Like all new signings, they need time and he’s no different.

Things will click for him at some point, but based on last night’s showing, I wouldn’t be surprised if we use another option up top during our next game.

Joseph Tulip says…

Ruthlessness in front of goal

The fact we’ve scored eleven goals in three games shows that our young side is a genuine attacking force in this division.

There seems to be no ceiling in terms of what our lads are capable of and Blackburn were unable to cope with our fast-paced counter attacks and relentless energy.

We took our chances, whereas Rovers didn’t, and it’s that ruthlessness which has brought us three successive wins.

Sunderland’s attackers shine

Jack Clarke is the joint top scorer in the Championship and he’s catching the eye for his goalscoring as much as he is for his trademark tearing apart of defences.

The former Leeds man was at the heart of this victory alongside Alex Pritchard, who was superb on his return to the starting eleven. He linked up our attacking play and sprayed some superb passes to switch the play.

Dan Neil continues to develop his all-round game and he took his goal well, in addition to a confident performance on the ball.

Abdoullah Ba also showed signs of his undoubted skill, getting the better of the full back on numerous occasions, although his final ball is still a work in progress.

Gaps at the back

We were second best early in the game and it’s a testament to our resilience, and also a bit of fortune, that we didn’t concede early on.

We rallied, however, and were unlucky to concede during the period when Dan Ballard was forced to leave the pitch with an injury.

All in all, we rode a storm and turned it into a worthy victory, by playing some very entertaining football once again.

High viz jackets or football shirts?

The new third kit might look good close up.

I haven’t seen it yet but from a distance, it took me a while to acclimatise to watching us play in such a domineering colour.

That being said, it didn’t stop us scoring three goals and winning comfortably in the end.

Whether the shirt clashes with the jackets worn by the stewards on the sidelines is a question for the players!

Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

Clarke will tear you apart

What a performance from the wide man.

Two goals and it could and maybe should’ve been a hat trick.

With work rate, tackles, vision and finishing, he’s the real deal when he plays like that.

Ba shines again

Although he started a little shakily, he was also brilliant.

His funniest contribution has to be hiding the ball behind his back when there were a couple of minutes to go.

That was as impressive as his football effort, and I love him more with every game.

Grit and determination

The sheer effort the lads showed under such massive pressure was amazing to behold.

Let’s be honest, at times it was a barrage and the players stood up as a team, to a man, and they wouldn’t give an inch.

Anthony Patterson was off the charts, as was Ballard and many others, and even Jobe Bellingham cleared one off the line.

We were missing some midfield steel without Pierre Ekwah and that showed, but we scrapped with everything we had.

A questionable goal conceded

We let in a goal when Ballard was off the pitch and the linesman didn’t give an offside. Tut tut!

What an evening otherwise.


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