Black Cats stopped the rot – how­ever ques­tions re­main about their squad

Hull City 1 Sun­der­land 1

Sunday Sun - - Football - Stu­art Rayner Sports writer stu.rayner@ncj­me­dia.co.uk

SUN­DER­LAND’S los­ing run is over but for the sec­ond game run­ning they con­ceded a late goal to one of their for­mer play­ers.

With Fraizer Camp­bell on the bench, it looked for all the world like the York­shire­man might “do a Daryl Mur­phy” but in­stead it was David Meyler – an­other who came off the bench – who set­tled the game.

On the back of four straight de­feats, the Black Cats should per­haps be happy just not to have added to that statis­tic, and they could not claim that Hull City did not de­serve it for their sec­ond-half per­for­mance.

But it was a game Sun­der­land had been on top of hav­ing taken the lead through James Vaughan’s first goal for the club in the first half, and they will be an­noyed that hav­ing been ahead for over an hour, they were un­able to close out vic­tory against an­other rel­e­gated side who have not had the best time of it since drop­ping into the Cham­pi­onship.

We have known for some time this team was a work in progress, so what Adam Matthews is first choice are the lessons that can be drawn from an­other painful ex­pe­ri­ence?

SUB-STAN­DARD

Sub­sti­tutes were the de­ci­sive fac­tor in this game, with David Meyler com­ing off the bench to snatch a point for the Tigers.

It has been clear for some time that Si­mon Grayson does not think much of the play­ers who sit on his bench, and he was again slow to use them.

Leonid Slut­sky had made all three of his avail­able changes be­fore Grayson acted. Jack Rod­well came on with only 15 min­utes left, fol­lowed by Billy Jones to lock the door and Lyn­den Gooch to try and prise it open again af­ter that failed to work.

Slut­sky’s changes were sig­nif­i­cant be­yond Meyler find­ing the net, chang­ing the shape of his team and the game in the sec­ond half as Hull went from 3-4-2-1/5-4-1 to a back four and far bet­ter use of their width.

Meyler was voted Hull’s man of the match.

Grayson’s use of sub­sti­tutes has been a con­cern so far, and yet again he was found want­ing.

CON­SIS­TENCY THE PROBLEM FROM SUN­DER­LAND’S GOAL­KEEP­ERS

Nei­ther Rob­bin Ruiter nor Ja­son Steele have looked con­vinc­ing be­tween the posts for Sun­der­land, both ca­pa­ble of mak­ing good saves, but seem­ingly in­ca­pable of look­ing rock solid for 90 min­utes.

Ruiter’s first-half per­for­mance in East York­shire was the best yet by a Black Cats goal­keeper this sea­son – at least in the Cham­pi­onship.

But as the game went on he seemed to lack the men­tal stamina re­quired by a keeper un­der the cosh, and was ul­ti­mately to blame for Meyler’s equaliser.

Ruiter’s han­dling was as­sured in the first half, alert to come off his line and ag­ile enough to get in the way of Ola Aina’s shot. The lines­man’s flag meant it was ir­rel­e­vant, ex­cept for the good it will have done for the con­fi­dence of his back four.

The touch with his left hand to deny Grosicki ten min­utes into the sec­ond half was even bet­ter – and this time it was very much needed with a goal seem­ingly in­evitable.

But he was lucky Fraizer Camp­bell did not pun­ish him with 11 min­utes left for wan­der­ing off his line with­out tak­ing the ball, and how much Meyler’s goal was down to sloppy de­fend­ing, how much down to a de­flec­tion off Lamine Kone is open to de­bate. What we do know is that Sun­der­land are still to keep a Cham­pi­onship clean sheet.

JAMES VAUGHAN IS UP AND RUN­NING

James Vaughan has been work­ing hard up front for Sun­der­land this sea­son, but there is only so much use in hav­ing a goal­less striker, par­ticu- Sun­der­land play­ers cel­e­brate the larly when those around him are not ex­actly smash­ing them in left, right and cen­tre.

The big­gest worry about Lewis Grab­ban’s ham­string in­jury was that it put too big a bur­den on the shoul­ders of a player who has rarely looked like find­ing the net for his lat­est club, but given the sort of cross cen­tre-for­wards like him love to feed off, he was able to head his side in front in the first half.

We did not get the chance to see what the goal meant for Vaughan’s fin­ish­ing in front of goal but hope­fully when we do, this will make a big dif­fer­ence. A first goal for their new club is im­por­tant for every striker.

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