Robbin Ruiter's like Dutch hero Johan Cruyff; Honeyman proves a point and four other things we learned

Sunderland moved to the top of Northern Group A after a 3-1 win over Carlisle United in the Checkatrade Trophy - but what did we learn from the game?.

Wednesday, 10th October 2018, 11:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th October 2018, 4:55 pm
Ethan Robson impressed before being forced off with an injury.

There was plenty to ponder for Black Cats manager Jack Ross, who named a strong side despite a number of injury concerns in the build-up to the game.

Here are six things we noticed, as well as some of the things you might have missed.

Ethan Robson impressed before being forced off with an injury.

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1. Jack Ross is taking the competition seriously

With a total of 14 players missing due to injury and suspensions, you could argue the Sunderland manager was left with one hand behind his back.

It would have been easy for Ross to do the same with Chris Maguire, Aiden McGeady, or his star defender Jack Baldwin.

However, the Sunderland boss resisted the temptation to promote a clutch of the club’s under-23 squad, instead selecting the strongest possible eleven aside from Lee Cattermole who was given a well-earned rest.

George Honeyman scoring Sunderland's third.

Ross may have made six changes to the side which started at Bradford last time out, but many of those were enforced.

Jon McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan are away on international duty, Max Power was suspended, while Josh Maja and Jerome Sinclair weren't risked after picking up ankle and hamstring injuries respectively.

2. The international break has come at a good time

On the eve of the game, Ross said he would be without 14 senior players against the Cumbrians.

Aside from Luke O’Nien, not one player on the Sunderland bench had made an appearance for the senior side at the start of the night, highlighting the manager’s lack of options.

The Black Cats now have eleven days until their next league fixture away at Shrewsbury Town on October 20.

3. Robbin Ruiter isn't bad with his feet

The Dutch goalkeeper didn’t exactly fill fans with confidence when he was selected between the sticks last season.

However, against Carlisle, Ruiter looked like he was playing for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side, passing the ball out from the back and showing neat footwork inside his own penalty area.

Midway through the first-half, Ruiter passed the ball out to midfielder Dylan McGeouch, who quickly gave it back to his keeper, with Carlisle striker Adam Campbell lurking inside the penalty area.

While most of the stadium held their breath, Ruiter left the striker for dead with the calmest of Cruyff Turns. Nothing to worry about.

4. Another injury blow for the Black Cats

Sunderland’s squad was beginning to look pretty thin before the game, and they must now add Ethan Robson’s name to their ever-growing injury list.

The 21-year-old midfielder was enjoying a fine game and looked good on the ball while operating in front of the back four.

Robson’s goal in the 33rd minute, his first for the club, demonstrated his confidence, as a crisp strike from the edge of the area restored Sunderland’s lead.

However, the midfielder didn’t make it to half-time after coming off worse following a 50/50 challenge

5. Honeyman proves a point

For the first time this season, George Honeyman was left out of Sunderland’s starting XI at Bradford.

But, the Black Cats’ skipper produced the perfect response, with an excellent performance against the Cumbrians.

Deployed in the number 10 position, Honeyman was lively all evening, making runs into the channels and creating space for his team-mates.

Honeyman’s runs were a nightmare for the Carlisle defence, and his goal in the 63rd minute was just reward for his hard work.

6. Kimpioka shows promise but still looks raw

It was the perfect start for the teenager, after he was handed his first start for the senior side.

Kimpioka opened the scoring with a glancing header inside two minutes, which set the tone for the evening.

Understandably, though, there were times when the 18-year-old still looked a little raw, when his runs weren’t quite in tandem with his team-mates.

However, there were still plenty of positives to take away for the Swedish striker.