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THE VERDICT: Sunderland march on

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THE VERDICT: Sunderland march on Empty THE VERDICT: Sunderland march on

Post  Black Cat Kiwi on 2020-11-05, 3:49 am

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Paul Fraser
04 November, 2020

With ten matches played, 21 points collected and a game in hand on many of those teams around them, Sunderland have reached Emirates FA Cup week in strong condition.
The challenge Phil Parkinson wants his players to now win is to maintain those levels, after all the Black Cats have only lost one game so far in Sky Bet League One – fewer than any other side in the division.
Leaders Peterborough United and second-placed Ipswich Town have lost two and three matches respectively, but have had one outing more than the men from Wearside.
Tuesday’s victory over Ipswich means Sunderland are running along nicely after responding to losing at home to Portsmouth by collecting seven points from nine in meetings with Rochdale, Gillingham and the Tractor Boys.
“21 points from ten games is a decent benchmark, when you say ten games is that,” said Parkinson.
“We didn’t play because of the international break either, so the points return is good. We will endeavour to do that. Hopefully we will get through in the FA Cup at the weekend [against Mansfield at the Stadium of Light].”
Sunderland’s points tally has been achieved despite facing the top three in the opening ten games, as well as coming up against well-fancied Portsmouth who sit seventh.
“When the fixtures came out people thought it was a tough old start, we have come through with one defeat,” the Sunderland manager reflected.
“The rest, say Charlton away, everyone knows we should have won. Ipswich are a good side, they have had a lot of home games you would expect them to win, and we have had a tough ten games.
“I am delighted to come through with 21 points.”
Sunderland started strongly against Ipswich on Tuesday, passing the ball around confidently in the opening period when Charlie Wyke finished off Lynden Gooch’s neat pass in the eighth minute.
But Ipswich did improve as the half wore on and levelled seven minutes from time when Jack Lankester beat goalkeeper Lee Burge after he was afforded too much space in the penalty area.
Parkinson introduced Max Power at the break because Josh Scowen was shook up following being hit straight in the face from a free-kick, and that sparked Sunderland into life again.
When Andre Dozzell was issued with a straight red card for his strong tackle in the centre of the pitch on Grant Leadbitter with 18 minutes remaining, Sunderland got the break they needed.
With six minutes remaining Leadbitter sent goalkeeper Tomas Holy the wrong way after referee Peter Wright had deemed Toto Nsiala’s clearance had illegally hit the arm of Mark McGuinness in the area.
Ipswich complained but Sunderland march on.
“It’s a terrific win for us, the last home game we came away with nothing, this is a big win for us,” added Parkinson.
“Technically they were very good in their midfield three, probably the best in the division. We looked a bit unsure, are we pressing high or are we not? We got caught in that a bit in the latter stages of the first half.
“We changed the shape a bit in the second half, giving us an extra man to build attacks. Even in the first half we had some decent chances, but Scowen had a bit of concussion, got a whack. We had to bring him off.
“We have to find a way to win, and against our rivals, second in the table, to come through we have to be really pleased.
“You have to come out with the points and discuss what we can do better later. The character, the resilience, sticking to the job, the organisation was great.
“Sometimes you can’t play as well as you would like and Ipswich made it difficult for us, but in the second half we were a lot better by readjusting the midfield slightly and we got what we wanted.”
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