How Anthony Patterson is justifying Sunderland's goalkeeper decision after impressive performance at Stoke
As Sunderland boss Alex Neil admitted after the match, his side were fortunate to lead 1-0 at half-time against Stoke.
But while Ross Stewart’s low finish just before the interval gave the Black Cats an unexpected advantage, and ultimately three points, they also had goalkeeper Anthony Patterson to thank.
The 22-year-old didn’t have as much to do in the second 45 minutes, with Sunderland improving and defending admirably during a hard-fought away win.
Yet Patterson’s interventions at the bet365 Stadium resulted in his first clean sheet of the season, which was thoroughly deserved.
The pick of the saves came in the 11th minute after a lofted pass over Dennis Cirkin’s head, one of the few times the defender was caught out, was controlled by Stoke forward Jacob Brown, whose dipping effort was heading for the top corner before Patterson palmed it away.
Moments later, Lewis Baker’s free-kick forced another save from the Sunderland stopper, yet the visitors weathered the storm.
As well as Patterson finished last season, question marks remained over his ability at Championship level and whether Sunderland needed to sign a more experienced figure.
Still, while we are only five league games into the campaign, the early signs have been encouraging. Patterson produced a string of fine saves at Sheffield United in midweek, while the side’s lack of clean sheets, up until the Stoke game, was more a reflection of Sunderland’s attacking approach.
One part of Patterson’s game which has been questioned is his hesitancy from crosses and corners. Still, it’s an area the youngster has clearly worked on, as he calmly collected Stoke’s deliveries into the box during spells of growing pressure.
The keeper’s passing out from the back has also helped relieve pressure on his team-mates, with Patterson completing all 11 of his attempted short passes against Stoke (according to Wyscout).
He was also successful with five of his seven attempted long passes, which were often directed into the left channel.
While Sunderland may still look to sign another keeper before the end of the transfer window, Patterson is so far repaying the faith that was placed in him earlier this year.
There may still be bumps in the road for the talented youngster this season, yet his ability and potential are clear to see.