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Everything Phil Parkinson said on Rochdale draw, his Sunderland selection and why he changed the system

Phil Parkinson insisted that his Sunderland side deserved three points after a frustrating draw at Rochdale.

Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 10:35 pm

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The Black Cats twice gave up the lead in the first half, with Charlie Wyke and Bailey Wright's headers cancelled out by a brace from Matty Lund.

Sunderland came close to snatching a winner when Max Power struck the underside of the bar with minutes to play, but in truth they struggled to test Gavin Bazunu despite their dominance in possession.

Parkinson, though, felt his side had imposed themselves on the contest after a bitterly disappointing defeat to Portsmouth at the weekend.

Slack defending twice allowed Rochdale to level the scores against Sunderland

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"I thought in the first half we played well in periods," Parkinson said.

"We looked a bit rusty in terms of the shape which was always likely after we made the decision to tweak things slightly.

"We scored two goals, looked a threat, but conceded two disappointing goals.

"The second half I thought we were excellent, completely dominated and we should be coming in talking about three points.

"In terms of the performance level, imposing ourselves on the opposition, like we have done for the majority of the season, I "thought we were unlucky not to get the three points after going away from that for the first time on Saturday."

Supporters were left frustrated by a second half in which Sunderland were in control without making major inroads.

Sunderland ultimately made just two substitutions, but Parkinson felt his side were forcing the issue and likely to find a winner.

He was left to rue the woeful first-half defending that led to both goals, and said his side must not allow their standards to drop in that part of the pitch.

The Black Cats boss again insisted that his front players will deliver the goals required.

Charlie Wyke scored his third goal in four league games, but Will Grigg and Aiden O'Brien were unused substitutes.

"At the start of the season, the points return has been decent," Parkinson said.

"Obviously the criticism we've had is that we haven't converted our chances. I believe we will, we've got the strikers and the midfielders to do it.

"But while we've been waiting for the goals to come, the bedrock of the team has been that tenacity in our defensive third.

"I said to the lads, let's make sure that stays in place.

"Don't let the frustration of not killing teams off stop us from having that.

"The first one was a really poor one for us to concede considering how we've defended so far this season.

"I just want to make sure that as a team, prior to the Portsmouth game, we were doing so well and had only conceded one goal, but the undercurrent of that was, 'we've got to score'.

"We know that, but we need to make sure we keep that other side of the game as well

"I absolutely believe we have goals in the team," he added.

"We are not going to get better front players than what we've got.

"I know everyone has been saying we should have got that this one, go and get that one.

"We've got good front players. We will get goals. What we need to ensure is that we give those forward players the platform so that when they score, it's winning goals.

"Listen, the lads have given everything tonight and some of the football in the second half was right up there.

"What I was pleased with was we kept going with our passes, not all the switches of play found the target, but we said you have to be brave and keep going for it.

"We took risks, went for those big switches. It didn't always come off but when it did, we looked a threatening side."

Parkinson also insisted that his changes were not due to individual performances in the 3-1 defeat to Portsmouth.

Grant Leadbitter and Josh Scowen both dropped out of the side, while Luke O'Nien was suspended and Jordan Willis, who has recently had some fitness issues, was on the bench.

Parkinson said he wanted some 'freshness' in the side, and also had in mind the 3-0 victory over Brian Barry-Murphy's side at the Stadium of Light earlier this year.

For this contest, Parkinson had reverted to the 3-4-3 system that he employed for the majority of the second half of last season.

The switch did allow Lynden Gooch to be an influential figure in the final third, producing two assists, but it was a mixed display from the Black Cats.

"First of all, we just wanted a bit of freshness," Parkinson said.

"It was a shape we played well in last year and against Rochdale at home last season, when we had the front three pressing high up the pitch.

"Sometimes, as well, changing things just gives the opposition something to think about and I thought it did tonight.

"We looked a decent side in the second half.

"Granty and Scowen have been excellent for us, really really excellent," he added.

"They've been two of our best players but prior to getting into the team at Oxford, Granty hadn't played a lot of football.

"He then played three games in seven games and I just thought the fourth one coming quickly, it was nothing to do with us getting beat on Saturday, in my mind I just wanted that freshness.

"Scowen has run himself into the ground, we have players who can step in and I thought George stepped in and did well tonight."

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