Second half goals from Aiden O’Brien and Max Power clinched victory in a game where the Black Cats dominated the ball. Here are this Tuesday’s 2 Good and 1 Bad.
Another Curse Broken!
Last night Sunderland finally beat Fleetwood Town for the first time since suffering relegation to the third tier. Like Burton, the Black Cats had not beaten Fleetwood in 6 attempts: with 4 draws and 2 defeats. To make matters worse on that front, the Cod Army had previously been managed by long time Sunderland foe Joey Barton, whose ‘David vs Goliath’ comparisons had become tiresome.
Yesterday evening, it was familiar face Simon Grayson in the opposing dugout; incredibly, Grayson has not won a single game at the Stadium of Light despite managing Sunderland for five months!
His Fleetwood side adopted similar tactics to a lot of the bottom half sides that come to Wearside. This was to camp their half whilst punting the ball long and waiting for an individual error from a Sunderland player.
For much of the first half this did work to an extent. However, in the second half Sunderland started creating a lot more and a predictable draw became a steady 2-0 win for the Black Cats. The Lads seem to be turning a corner when playing against teams set up in this way.
Fleetwood Town did not even manage a single attempt at goal all game.
Options off the Bench
In recent weeks Sunderland’s bench has been littered with quality. Last night, Lee Johnson brought Chris Maguire and Jordan Jones off the bench, at any other club in the league these players would be guaranteed to start.
However, at Sunderland the two of them cannot get into the team. Especially Maguire who scored 10 goals and provided 10 assists last campaign. Maguire came off the bench and assisted the Black Cats second goal from a well taken corner.
Jones also had a great cameo appearance. His direct running and blistering pace caused the Fleetwood defenders all sorts of problems on the left flank. Right centre half James Hill flew into a tackle on Jones that could have seen him red carded on another day.
Other teams in this league will be envious of this quality from the bench. The Fleetwood defenders must have breathed a sigh of relief when they saw Aiden McGeady’s number being raised from the touch line, only for their panic to be reinstated when Jordan Jones came on to replace him.
Overreliance on a Certain Player
Again, it was hard to pick out any glaring problems from this Sunderland performance. However, the first half was an almost non-event. Fleetwood seemed to have an answer to Sunderland’s forward players.
Lynden Gooch was constantly forced into making the wrong decision on the right flank. Meanwhile McGeady barely got a touch of the ball for the opening 35 minutes.
Eventually, through a reshuffle of the formation Lee Johnson managed to find a way to involve McGeady and it paid dividends as he set up O’Brien’s opener. In recent weeks McGeady has been providing a goal contribution every game, which is fantastic.
Although, when he is not in the game Sunderland do not look nearly as threatening. There was a huge overreliance towards McGeady under Jack Ross two years ago and when he injured his foot Sunderland slipped out of the automatic promotion race.
Lee Johnson has an array of attacking options in his squad so if McGeady is missing someone must be capable of stepping up.