Stephen Elliott: Sunderland drop more points but this is why I felt encouraged by the MK Dons draw

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Two trips to Milton Keynes in five days is not going to get the mouth watering at the best of times, never mind playing on a cabbage patch of a pitch.

However, it was the call of duty and very much a case of getting there and getting on with business.

After an impressive win in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday I’m sure the Sunderland team were confident going into the more crucial League One fixture on Saturday.

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Sunderland could not have got off to a better start when Charlie Wyke confidently stroked the ball home inside the opening minutes for an impressive 13th league goal of the season.

Sunderland's Aiden McGeady.Sunderland's Aiden McGeady.
Sunderland's Aiden McGeady.

Any overconfidence was misguided, however, as MK Dons decided they were not going to make it as easy for Sunderland as they did in midweek.

The hosts took control of the game after Wyke’s goal and scored twice in the 15 minute spell that followed, to give Sunderland an uphill struggle. Yet again.

During that period, Sunderland, especially at the back, looked leggy and couldn’t seem to win any first or second balls.

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To be fair to Sunderland, I felt they played quite well outside this little spell and offered a genuine threat offensively during the game.

Tom Flanagan was injured in the warm-up and whether the late change to the line-up had something to do with that poor spell, I’m not sure, but Lee Johnson will need to find a way to stop lapses like that going forward.

It proved costly to Sunderland and was a big reason why Sunderland didn’t win the game.

I was pleased to see Luke O’Nien in midfield and I thought he offered a real drive and energy to the team.

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He may have given away a few silly fouls, but his equalising goal alone shows why he should play in there more regularly.

He does the dirty work helping out defensively and, like I mentioned last week, offers a real goal threat. His finish was fantastic and I’ve no doubt he will produce more goals before the end of the season if he continues in there.

A point in the end may have been a fair result but the pleasing thing for me was the amount of final third entries and shots on goal Sunderland had.

There was a real positivity in the team going forward and I really believe on another day, had the lads been more clinical, it would have resulted in a victory. Aiden McGeady especially comes to mind, with the big chance he had in the dying minutes.

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I think we have seen there is something different to call upon compared to what we have seen under the previous regimes with the introduction of some of the substitutes.

Jordan Jones came on and looked a real threat and I firmly believe if the game had gone on for another few minutes, Sunderland would have won.

Don’t get me wrong MK Dons had their moments but I felt Sunderland looked the stronger of the two teams, particularly in the latter stages.

With some of the teams above Sunderland dropping points, I see it as a point gained and more importantly, I came away from the game feeling excited about some real attacking potential in this squad moving forward.

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