Sunderland blew chance against Oxford to send out statement of intent to League One rivals
Sunderland could have gone joint top of League One had they beat Oxford on Saturday but after a hugely frustrating 90 minutes, a single point was all they could manage.
At least the unbeaten start to the season goes on and that is important but all of Sunderland’s troubles were the result of a horrible start, which is hard to understand considering they went into the game on a high with everything in their favour.
From the first minute, Sunderland looked off the pace, Oxford were quicker to the ball and more dynamic as Sunderland laboured.
Max Power’s red card was the end product of a 20-minute spell as bad as Sunderland have produced all season and more like last season’s depressing performances that we saw so often.
Would Sunderland have won without Power’s red card? Probably, as they did fight back for a share of the spoils and playing so long with 10 men is a massive handicap.
However, Chris Maguire could easily have been sent off too, Jack Ross subbed him because he was a walking red card as Sunderland’s discipline and focus - for the first time this season admittedly - unravelled.
On paper, Saturday’s home game against Oxford looked the easiest of the season; Sunderland second, Oxford third bottom, but Sunderland blew their chance to send out a great statement of intent by going joint top and instead had to settle for fourth - which is not where we want to be come May.
I don’t want to sound unduly negative, it is just that I don’t want Sunderland to stay more than one season in League One and dropping points at home doesn’t help and must be the exception rather than the norm.
It would be wrong to say there were no positives; Charlie Wyke announced himself to the fans with a debut goal and there should be more to come as I doubt he is anywhere near full match fitness and sharpness.
My man of the match was Jack Baldwin, he looks a great signing at this level and when things were looking at their darkest with the team down to ten men and a goal down, heads didn’t drop as we’ve come to expect from these players and they gave everything to salvage a point.
However, there is no denying Sunderland’s new young team suffered a set-back on Saturday for the first time this campaign but I’d have taken four wins and two draws from the first six games despite my disappointment after the Oxford game.