Six things: No excuse for lack of fight as League One-bound Sunderland implode against Preston North End

It doesn't get any better does it?

Sunday, 18th March 2018, 12:33 pm
Updated Sunday, 18th March 2018, 12:40 pm
Lee Camp makes a save.
Lee Camp makes a save.

Sunderland are now ten games without a win in the Championship and with only eight games remaining, League One next season is looming large.

Here's what we learned from the latest defeat.

Lee Camp makes a save.

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League One looming as Sunderland's winless run extends.

The gap remains five points but Sunderland are showing no signs they are capable of closing it.

With just eight games remaining, Sunderland are 10 games without a win and offering nothing to suggest they have what it takes to stay up.

They continue to ship goals while looking toothless at the other end. A recipe for disaster and one that will surely end in relegation to League One.

Jake Clarke-Salter is sent off. Pictures by Frank Reid.

They need close to a miracle now but they have shown nothing all season to suggest it is even a remote possibility.

No excuse for a lack of fight.

With Preston North End leading 2-0 with half an hour to go, the visitors couldn't have been more comfortable. At times it resembled a training exercise.

Josh Maja in action for Sunderland.

Yes, Sunderland were down to ten men and stretched more as a result but the lack of fight on display was alarming.

Preston allowed to dictate play, passing the ball around at will.

The Sunderland fans rightly grew increasingly frustrated and irate as the half wore on.

The players were individually booed off at full-time, only Joel Asoro avoiding criticism.

Lee Camp makes a save.

Even schoolboys would be embarrassed by Sunderland's defending.

At half-time there was nothing to separate the sides; the tough conditions not helping make it easy for free-flowing football, not that we've seen much of that from Sunderland.

But Sunderland looked reasonably solid. We should have known. Five minutes into the second half Paul Gallagher produced a routine free-kick into a dangerous area and Sunderland failed to pick up Sean Maguire.

The same Sean Maguire who had scored four goals in his previous three games. A free header at the back post. Unforgivable.

Callum Robinson headed in another Gallagher delivery to seal the points 13 minutes later. Again a free header. All too easy. The defending is embarrassing. Basic errors every game.

Jake Clarke-Salter is sent off. Pictures by Frank Reid.

A big clear out needed.

Ashley Fletcher taken out of the firing line.

It had to happen. Fletcher, without a goal since arriving on loan from Middlesbrough in January, was finally dropped for the visit of the Lilywhites.

Fans had lost patient with him and Coleman took him out of the firing line. His confidence shattered. Josh Maja and Joel Asoro started up front.

Asoro produced his usual energetic display, causing the Preston defence problems but Maja failed to shine. The service, though, was again abysmal to the forwards.

Sunderland have problems all over the pitch and Coleman is running out of games to solve them.

Applauded off at the break but boos ring out at FT.

At half-time, with the game goalless, Sunderland were well in the game.

With Barnsley beaten at lunch time this was a good opportunity to reduce the deficit to safety to just two points heading into the international break.

Sunderland were applauded off. Two soft goals and a red card for Jake Clarke-Salter in the following 45 minutes left Sunderland 10 games without a win.

The players booed off by those that still remained inside the ground.

The official attendance was 28,543. There was nowhere near that amount inside the ground.

By full-time it was almost empty and who can blame the fans for walking out early again after another home defeat?

Lack of discipline under Chris Coleman is a concern.

Six times now Sunderland have had to play with ten men.

With Sunderland already trailing 1-0 to Alex Neil's side, there was little prospect of them getting back into the game anyway but as soon as Jake Clarke-Salter was sent off it was certainly game over.

Coleman was planning on taking him off, Clarke-Salter off the pace on his return to the side after taking a knock in the first half. Referee Darren Bond beat him to it.

He will now miss another two games, having just returned from a three-game ban. Coleman again having to shuffle his defence.

Josh Maja in action for Sunderland.