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Sunderland v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship

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Two Up, Two Down: What were the positives & negatives from Sunderland’s loss to Cardiff?

Despite another largely positive performance, the Lads fell to a 0-1 defeat to Erol Bulut’s team on Sunday afternoon. What did our writers make of the game?

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

Andrew Smithson says...

Pitch perfect

It was only when Sarina Wiegman mentioned it on Friday after the England game that it clicked just how good our pitch is at the moment.

The surface was still in great condition two days later and I think I’ve recently been taking that for granted. It’s easy to forget that it was only a couple of seasons ago that we were having real issues, so it’s good to see another aspect being given suitable attention by the club.

Our style works best in good conditions and putting time, care and resources into all these areas will contribute to us being able to move forward.

It didn’t alter the score this time, but thumbs up to the ground staff and good luck to them ahead of the potentially tricky weather in the coming months.

Niall Huggins impresses

Earlier in the week, I was discussing how Huggins might be due a rest, simply because of his previous injury concerns and not wanting to push him.

However, it shows what I know because the lad was full of energy. He was up and down the wing and he also helped a lot going forward. He clearly has a lot of talent and is another asset.

A home banana skin

Sunday games can be a bit flat at the best of times, and whenever we go on a decent run, the doubts start to creep in about whether a kick in the teeth is on the way.

Cardiff City have had some decent results too, and given the slippery conditions early on, this had all the hallmarks of a potential loss before kick off. I don’t think any Sunderland fan of a certain age will have been surprised by the defeat, and many will have seen it coming, but we were good value for a point at least and that’s the real shame.

We started slowly and got a bit lax as things wore on, but there were times when we looked good and seemed to have a bit of maturity about us.

In contrast, Cardiff barely had a sniff, so to end up conceding late on when it seemed as though the points would be shared is tough to take.

A lack of composure up front

Had we not looked to walk it in on occasions and if some of our finishing had been a bit cleaner, we’d have been laughing.

The players are still getting used to having a ‘natural’ centre forward to play off and there were openings where just a touch more composure was needed, but that should come with more experience.

We probably have to expect to lose the odd tight game when we have such a young side, but it’s fine margins and I’m not too downbeat.

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

Joseph Tulip says…

Some excellent football

For the first eighty six minutes or so before Cardiff scored, I enjoyed an afternoon watching the Lads do what we’ve become so accustomed to watching.

We dominated for large periods and played some attractive, patient passing football whilst successfully getting in behind a gritty and resolute Cardiff side, but we couldn’t quite find a goal.

We truly are a joy to watch these days and despite the result, we didn’t deserve to lose and it definitely wasn’t spoiling my afternoon. It’s just one of those results and make no mistake: we’ll be back.

Chances aplenty

Had we scored one, it could’ve been a few more but after our recent goal return, it was no surprise that the football gods decided that our shooting boots weren’t going to be effective this time round.

There was no standout performer, but top marks to Jack Clarke for his incessant running, to Jobe for slotting comfortably into a deeper role, and to Abdoullah Ba for causing problems down the right.

The lads at the back were solid for the most part and it’s a game where we have to look at the positives and move on to the next one.

Cirkin’s absence felt

I’m a big admirer of Niall Huggins and he played well against Cardiff, but I feel he’s more suited to a right sided role.

We’re missing those surging runs forward from Dennis Cirkin on the overlap to support Clarke, with a left foot ready to cross.

A high-risk passing game

The way we play can be high risk at times, and intricate passing can easily lead to the odd misplaced ball. Dan Neil has worked hard to eradicate this from his game and this season, Sunday included, he’s been excellent overall.

Both Neil and Trai Hume gave the odd pass away but I’m being picky because there wasn’t much wrong with our performance at all.

It just wasn’t our day, and no team can play total football and expect every pass to be perfect, so this isn’t meant to be a criticism of Neil or Hume, because I rate both players highly.

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

Malc Dugdale says...

Everything but a goal

We bossed that game as convincingly as the logo on Tony Mowbray’s gilet suggested, but we couldn’t convert the chances and that made the difference.

We have to take some comfort from that and accept we had a bad day at the office, much as Blackburn did earlier in the week.

Across those two games, we got three points and that’s a decent return. It was probably just the wrong way round.

Some encouraging displays

Adil Aouchiche looked good when he came on, forcing a save from their goalkeeper, and Nazariy Rusyn also looked sharp on his short but welcome debut too.

These lads and others are going to grow into our way of playing more and more over time.

We’re still short of options in certain positions and we really miss the likes of Pierre Ekwah, but the minutes banked by the fringe players will have helped these lads and therefore helped us in wider terms, despite the outcome.

Trai Hume falls slightly short

That was probably Hume’s worst performance for some time.

Ordinarily I’m a huge fan and for good reason, but he had a bad day yesterday with what seemed to be more errors than useful contributions.

He really had no need to concede the late corner which led to the winner for Cardiff, but like many of the lads who’ve had bad days in the past (such as Dan Neil, who was excellent) he’ll bounce back from that and learn.

For a player who’s had a lot of ‘man of the match’ days himself, we’re all allowed a dip.

Confusing substitutions

I was really confused by the choices Tony Mowbray made when he turned to the bench.

The influence of Jobe in the middle was a massive loss when he went off, and I think others should’ve made way- maybe Alex Pritchard, who was visibly shattered and no wonder, after two games this week and being known as a lad who doesn’t often play for the full ninety minutes.

Abdoullah Ba needed to come off as he was on an early yellow card, and introducing Hemir was fair, but losing that skilled pivot in the middle made no sense to me.

Hopefully a lesson for the head coach.

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


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