The story of the day as attacking frustrations cost Sunderland against Heerenveen

Sunderland failed to score for the third successive pre-season game - as they fell to defeat against SC Heerenveen.

Saturday, 27th July 2019, 8:49 pm
Updated Saturday, 27th July 2019, 9:50 pm
Marc McNulty made his Sunderland debut against Heerenveen - but couldn't find the net

In a game of few chances, a moment of magic from Hitcham Faik saw the Black Cats fall to defeat - although there were plenty of positives to take from the visit of the Eredivise side.

Jack Ross opted for the 3-4-3 shape that he has utilised throughout pre-season, and having started the clash with Belenenses on the front foot last weekend, Ross’ side sat back in the early stages and allowed their visitors plenty of the ball.

That saw the back three faced with some early tests, but all were dealt with admirably - Jordan Willis courageously blocking a rasping drive from Ben Reinstra early on.

In what was a fairly drab first half, it was Sunderland who came the closest to breaking the deadlock when Conor McLaughlin saw his glancing header hacked off the line, before the centre back’s second effort came back off the crossbar.

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And while the opening period petered out, the second start with Sunderland on top - Lynden Gooch skewing a golden opportunity wide after Denver Hume’s fell kindly.

Warner Hahn was then forced into his first real save of the evening after he did well to parry a powerful effort from Grant Leadbitter, who lapsed on a loose ball on the edge of the area.

In a bid to find a breakthrough, Ross introduced Marc McNulty for his debut - and the forward almost had an immediate impact.

After a mazy run into the area, Elliot Embleton’s cut back picked out the loanee - whose goal-bound shot was blocked at the source.

But all the Black Cats’ hard work was undone by a moment of brilliance from Faik, who unleashed an unstoppable effort from 30 yards which left Jon McLaughlin with no chance.

Will Grigg came close late on, turning and firing into the side netting, before an Embleton free-kick came back off the inside of the post after finding its way through a crowd of bodies.

But there as to be no breakthrough as Ross saw his side’s attacking woes continue – with the season now just a week away.