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Stephen Elliott: This is why Sunderland still have promotion hope despite Charlton draw

If we take away the result from Saturday I don’t think there will be too many people disappointed with the performance of the team.

By Stephen Elliott
Monday, 7th March 2022, 6:00 pm

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Yes I’m aware that it is getting a little bit tight in the play-off positions – especially with a few more teams picking up a bit of form - but I felt, bar the ball actually going in the Charlton net, Sunderland continued on from last Saturday’s victory against Wigan with another impressive display at the Valley.

Alex Neil’s stamp is finally showing on the team and the players seem to have belief again.

Ross Stewart, who I thought was a real handful once again for the Charlton back line, will be a little bit disappointed that one of his headers did not find the net.

The Sunderland players celebrate a goal.

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I’m not going to send too much critique towards the big striker as he has been immense this season but I’m sure he will be the first one to admit that he could have done better on a few occasions.

It would not surprise me in the slightest though, if he comes up trumps again on Tuesday at home to Fleetwood as he has shown before that he doesn’t let a few misses affect his game.

On Saturday, I felt the team were so comfortable containing the Charlton attack line and we never really looked like conceding. Both Arbenit Xhemajli and Bailey Wright appeared strong and at ease playing alongside each other.

As well as that it looked like Carl Winchester and Dennis Cirkin seemed to know exactly what is required in those full-back positions. The latter looking a lot more secure than in recent showings.

During the poor run of form, conceding goals has been a huge worry and the squad looked threadbare in defensive areas. It would seem that Alex Neil has found his preferred back line and hopefully these boys can stay fit and healthy from now on in.

As I have mentioned before in previous columns I believe offensively Sunderland have one of the most competent group of attacking players in the division.

If the team can keep clean sheets then the likelihood is Sunderland will finish in the play-off positions, which is probably the most we can ask for now, given the gap to the top two.

Obviously on Saturday there will be a slight disappointment that all three points were not picked up but if the we can beat both Fleetwood and Crewe at home over the next five days then it may seem like a good point gained.

They seem like two very winnable games on paper but the team will have to be on it in both games as there are no ‘gimmes’ as we have found out earlier on in the season at times.

Both these teams are fighting for their lives in the division but if the team can reproduce similar displays to what we have seen in the previous two games then it should be enough to take all the spoils and finish the week on a high.

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