On Saturday, Sunderland played out their second consecutive 1-1 draw of the season, this time away from home at Ipswich Town.
The only goal of the game came through Lynden Gooch who fired home after some excellent pressing from new signing Marc McNulty forced Luke Chambers into a mistake, allowing the forward to nip in and square the ball to Gooch.
Whilst Sunderland want victories, it wasn’t the worst result away from home at a side who are expected to be challenging for promotion.
Having joined in the summer, this was McNulty’s first goal involvement for the Black Cats, and doesn’t look like it’ll be his last. In what was an impressive performance from the ever spritely attacker, his persistence finally paid off.
The 26-year-old completed the 90 minutes on Saturday producing some interesting statistics, some of which are encouraging whilst others are less so.
The forward, who is on loan from Reading, seemed to excel going forward with the ball at his feet. His passing accuracy going forward and into the final third was 100%. Something that you can be sure Jack Ross will be pleased with.
Although, perhaps Ross will be thinking that Sunderland’s wingers, Aiden McGeady and Gooch, should be doing more to support the forward – and not vice versa.
McNulty’s assist came with 25 minutes to go. It was excellent work from the Scottish international who pressurised Ipswich defender Chambers into making a mistake. He then stole the ball and passed across goal for Gooch to fire home into an empty net.
Many other strikers would have been selfish at that point and went for goal, but McNulty chose the right option and helped Sunderland secure the point.
Throughout the whole match however, Sunderland had just three shots with only one on target (the goal) and that will be a cause for concern. In fact, McNulty had no shots in the 90 minutes. For a striker of a team that is targeting promotion, this can’t happen.
McNulty, at 5ft 10in isn’t the tallest of forwards and the inability to hold up the ball may see Ross try to partner him in their big game with Portsmouth on Saturday. Will Grigg could be a suitable partner, and the Black Cats would see a greater attacking threat going forward.
The signs are there that McNulty is going to be successful up in Sunderland, his work rate and progressive passing have shown this. He needs help though, and to succeed he will need more support from those around him.