How Anthony Patterson has given Lee Johnson a goalkeeping dilemma after starting ahead of Lee Burge against Wycombe
One of the biggest decisions for Sunderland boss Lee Johnson ahead of his side’s League One meeting against promotion rivals Wycombe was who to start in goal.
Lee Burge held the number one jersey for most of last season and retained the position for the start of this campaign, yet it was 21-year-old Anthony Patterson who started between the sticks against the Chairboys.
Burge’s injury before the win over AFC Wimbledon last weekend opened the door for Patterson to make his first league start for Sunderland, while the latter has also played in the Carabao Cup this term.
And this was the biggest vote of confidence in the youngster yet, as the Black Cats academy graduate kept his place against an in-form side while Burge was left on the bench.
It should be noted that Patterson hasn’t been hugely tested in the two league games he’s started for Sunderland so far.
There was also little he could do about Wycombe’s consolation goal during the 3-1 win, as David Wheeler’s shot took a big deflection off Callum Doyle which left the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.
It is therefore hard to draw too many conclusions about Patterson’s overall display.
The two efforts he had to save, from a Sam Vokes header and Adebayo Akinfenwa shot, were straight at the goalkeeper and comfortably held.
Patterson was also able to eventually smoother Anis Mehmeti’s cross while under pressure, after the delivery was looped into the air by Doyle’s attempted clearance.
From Wycombe’s five corners, where the visitors could have looked to target the young goalkeeper, Patterson often elected to stay on his line as his team-mates dealt with the danger.
Another strong showing from Sunderland centre-backs Doyle and Tom Flanagan, who were up against Welsh international Vokes, was one of the main reasons behind the keeper’s lack of action.
When Patterson did have the ball, his first thought was to roll it out to one of his defenders as Sunderland looked to build attacks from the back.
He also demonstrated his ability to play long first-time passes up to Black Cats forward Ross Stewart, and to clip the ball out to the flanks.
There will clearly be tougher tests to come for the 21-year-old, but against Wycombe he did the basics well.