This is what happened as a new-look Sunderland side fall to disappointing Bradford City defeat
Sunderland fell to their second defeat of the pre-season game in a poor display against Bradford City.
Goals from Emmanuel Osadebe and Jamie Walker in the second half handed Mark Hughes’ side a richly deserved win, with the Black Cats struggling to forge any clear chances in the sweltering conditions.
It was a Sunderland side with a very different look and one that you suspect will bear little similarity to the one that will face Coventry City on opening day, but Alex Neil will undoubtedly have been disappointed with what was a disjointed showing.
The head coach had widely trailed that he would rotate heavily for this fixture to ensure a consistency of minutes across the squad, and he also used it as a chance to trial a switch in system, Sunderland operating with a 3-5-2.
In truth the unfamiliarity across the park was telling in an uninspiring first half.
Though Sunderland saw plenty of possession it was ainly cross their own backline, the absence of a natural striker through the middle telling.
It was Bradford who looked the most threatening, building some promising overlaps down the flanks. Jacob Carney did well to race off his line as Osadebe broke through, and that sparked a flurry of chances for the hosts. Halliday crossed well to the back post but Cook was just unable to meet it, the striker having an effort deflected wide just after.
The two best chances of the half followed first when Walker’s snapshot from the edge of the box flahsed just wide, before Angol dithered and allowed Batth to challenge when he was put through one-v-one.Neil cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines and the Black Cats were unable to test the opposition goalkeeper, their only opening coming when Romoney Chrichlow made a good challenge just as Jack Diamond looked to get free in the box.
Sunderland stepped up the intensity at the start of the second half but soon found themselves behind. Carney had done superbly to halt a Bradford attack as Walker burst through, but was beaten easily shortly afterwards when Osadebe fired straight through him from a narrow angle.
Neil unsurprisingly changed shape and reverted to a back four and though substitute Sohna went close with a long-range effort, he perhaps had better options to find team-mates who were in space to either side.
Sunderland were still looking laboured but at least had a greater threat with Clarke in a more familiar role driving infield from the left. He came within inches of equalising when Embleton increasingly influential himself sicne the system change, released him on the left of the penalty box.
It was the best spell of the game for Neil’s side, but a defensive laps all but settled the contest.
Lynden Gooch was forced into hauling Walker down as he failed to deal with a ball forward, and the lively forward got up to convert the penalty.
It was Bradford who finished the stronger, too, only a couple of stray passes and runs made just too early preventing them turning some good openings on the break into a further goal.