Sunderland are missing 'talismanic' figures as striker woes continue against Blackpool

When Elliot Embleton stroked the ball into the bottom left corner only for the referee to pull play back for a Sunderland free-kick, you felt that this was a moment where the Mackems’ emotions were summarised the most.

Frustration. Anger. And, just that hint of disappointment.

In this second consecutive goalless draw, the Black Cats had their moments, but for all they could push, Blackpool seemed to push that one step harder to keep up with them.

Hide Ad

Again, this felt like another performance filled with positives for the home side, but ultimately the only deciding factor on how good the performance truly was, is the full-time result.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Sunderland player Elliot Embleton in action during the Sky Bet Championship between Sunderland and Coventry City at Stadium of Light on July 31, 2022 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Again, this was one that ended goalless. First, Preston on Saturday, now Blackpool on Tuesday.

And ultimately, again, Sunderland missed the talismanic figure of either Ross Stewart or Ellis Simms in the forward areas: when Blackpool’s gameplan shifted to force Mowbray’s side to go long, that’s when the Tangerines began to apply pressure, and the hosts began to falter.

Hide Ad

Yet again, though, the Black Cats’ defensive resistance was able to stand fort amid much second-half Blackpool pressure: corner after corner went by, Michael Appleton opted for the danger of Theo Corbeanu and Ian Poveda from the bench; both huffed and puffed, but couldn’t quite blow the Sunderland fort down.

So, the comparisons between Saturday’s stalemate against Preston, and Tuesday’s draw with Blackpool prove to be massive.

Hide Ad

For those fans that turned out on this Tuesday night, it was a performance that left them on the edge of their seats (partially in the excitement in the first half, and with nerves in the second), and that feeling will ultimately continue.

But sooner or later, the Black Cats will begin to find their scoring boots again. It’s been two matches of ‘if, buts and maybes’, but as Tony Mowbray conveyed pre-Blackpool, some of the team’s attackers need to be that bit more selfish.

Hide Ad

In the end, it’s been a three-day window where Mowbray will want to learn from the errors and move forward with the improvements. With Ellis Simms still missing for another two-three weeks and Ross Stewart potentially out until post-World Cup break, the Black Cats still need to find their attacking outlet.

If Amad Diallo learns some of this ‘selfishness’ in front of goal, he may just be the man. His first Sunderland start was filled with plenty of energy, lots of interplay, but a lack of a goalscoring touch – most notably coming when he failed to apply the finish to an attacking move just before the half-time interval.

Hide Ad

For Sunderland, this was an evening that felt very similar to that of only three days previous: Mowbray’s side were frustrated for large parts of the contest, but ultimately came up short in the final 20 minutes or so, when his substitutions failed to make the desired impact.

But, nevertheless, the Black Cats are still building in the Championship, and yet again, this was another step forward, albeit with a bit of frustration on the way.