Stephen Elliott: This is why I'm feeling confident for Sunderland again despite mixed bag of results at Shrewsbury Town and Cambridge

You felt it was always going to be an important week for Lee Johnson and his squad after the international break.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 5:00 pm

After picking up a fighting win last weekend against Ipswich Town, the team would have felt confident going into two away games.

If I’m honest I expected Sunderland to win both games against Shrewsbury Town and Cambridge, respectively.

The Shrewsbury game was a huge disappointment for me though.

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The Sunderland players celebrate a goal. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images)

It really did feel like two big points were dropped.

After taking the lead and going a man up, I thought the game was handled and managed poorly by both the manager and the team.

To end up drawing the game was an awful outcome and the draw felt worse than a defeat.

Because of this, Cambridge on Saturday became a game that had a lot more pressure added to it than it probably should have.

Throw in Storm Arwen and the trip to the Abbey Stadium could have became a bit of a lottery.

The weather destroyed the game as a spectacle for me but the job at hand was still to win.

Alex Pritchard scored a great goal at Shrewsbury through the week and he continued his goals scoring run on Saturday.

The goal may have gone straight in from a corner but I would not have been surprised if he genuinely meant to score. With Aiden McGeady out for the next few months I think Pritchard is going to become a very important player for the team.

He is a player who has undoubted higher level quality and if he stays fit and continues to play regularly then there won’t be too many League One defenders who will enjoy coming up against him.

Back to the game and after Cambridge clawed their way back into it with an equaliser I was delighted with Sunderland’s response.

It wasn’t a day where the conditions allowed you to pass through the lines consistently but I felt Sunderland managed to cope really well with the elements.

Nathan Broadhead produced a real moment of quality despite the torrid weather and his strike was worthy of winning any game. It was fitting that it turned out to be the decisive goal.

Like Pritchard, I hope he can find a run of games as if he can produce more moments like Saturday he could become a real favourite with the crowd.

With Ross Stewart having a bit of a barren run in front of goal, there’s no doubt if both these two can start chipping in it will be a massive help going forward.

Sunderland soaked up a lot of pressure and huge credit should be giving to the defensive unit in keeping it at one.

On another day, Sunderland could have added to their lead but winning was all that mattered.

After beating Ipswich, a seven point haul is a slight disappointment but looking at the league table, Sunderland are right in the automatic promotion mix.

With three home league games coming up the team really could be in the driving seat.

I don’t see why this isn’t a real possibility.

It will obviously take a bit of work and good use of the squad but whisper it quietly, I’m feeling confident again. Amazing what a week can do in football.

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