Six things we learned from Ipswich defeat: Sunderland relegation fears grow, set piece woe, problems for Chris Coleman

Bryan Oviedo. Pictures by Frank Reid.
Bryan Oviedo. Pictures by Frank Reid.
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Sunderland's relegation fears heightened further following the 2-0 defeat to Ipswich Town at the Stadium of Light.

After a bright start, it was all too comfortable for Mick McCarthy's after going in at the break with a commanding lead.

Ashley Fletcher.

Ashley Fletcher.

Here's what we learned from the latest home defeat:

Relegation to League One becoming increasingly likely:

Sunderland are now 30 games into the Championship season and deep in relegation trouble, second bottom.

Given how dire Sunderland have been it says a lot about the division that they are still only two points adrift.

Ovie Ejaria.

Ovie Ejaria.

However, they are now four points off fifth-bottom Bolton Wanderers and five from Birmingham City, who secured back-to-back wins this week. So vital.

Of the remaining 16 games, Sunderland are realistically going to have to win almost half of them to give themselves a fighting chance. They have only managed five wins all season. Alarm bells are ringing loud and clear.

Can’t score, can’t defend:

Sunderland have lost four out of their last five league games. They are struggling to score and struggling to defend. A recipe for disaster.

Sunderland have managed just 31 goals this season, only five sides have a worse record than them. The pressure on the shoulders of Boro loanee Ashley Fletcher huge.

In defence, Sunderland have shipped an embarrassing 52 goals, only bottom-of-the-table Burton Albion have conceded more (58).

No wonder the goal difference is a whopping -21. That could prove crucial.

Set pieces are awful:

Sunderland’s set pieces continue to infuriate. The delivery is often poor, struggling to beat the first man from corners and when the ball does arrive where it is intended, there aren’t enough Sunderland bodies willing or able to compete for it.

It is remarkable how many times opposing teams break at speed from a Sunderland set piece, hitting them on the counter-attack swiftly.

Coleman has problems sorting out the defence and the attack but the Black Cats must work harder on their set piece delivery.

Bryan Oviedo took charge on Saturday and the delivery was very poor.

Billy Jones can’t play centre back:

Jones is a right back by trade but on odd occassions is deployed in the back three if injuries strike.

With Marc Wilson, Lamine Kone and Jake Clarke-Salter missing through injury, Coleman turned to Jones to deputise in order to play the same formation.

Jones didn’t cover himself in glory and was at fault for the opening goal after 35 minutes, it proved crucial as so often is the case at the Stadium of Light.

It was a smart finish from Joe Garner, who held off and turned Jones with ease in the box before finding the bottom corner. All too easy.

Fletcher and Ejaria provided hope:

Sunderland, it has to be said, played very well for the opening 25 minutes, the new signings making a big impact to Sunderland’s play.

Ashley Fletcher, signed on loan from Middlesbrough, was full of running, often coming deep to get the ball, showed his intelligence and quick-thinking at times.

Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria, meanwhile, always showed for the ball and tried to make something happen.

His impact lessened as the game wore on but it was an encouraging debut from the 20-year-old.

Those two were the plus points of an afternoon to forget for Sunderland.

Coleman has to work wonders with squad at his disposal.

Nobody else is coming in. No free agents. This is what Chris Coleman has to work with between now and the end of the season.

Sunderland signed five new faces in January and crucially shipped a few out of the door who didn’t want to be here; Grabban, Vaughan and Ndong.

A few remain who they would have liked to have seen the back of, including £70,000-a-week Jack Rodwell, but at least Coleman now knows exactly what he has to work with.

And he is going to have to conjure up something special if Sunderland are to climb out of the drop zone and away from relegation danger. It would be his greatest achievement.