safc.com’s Oscar Chamberlain takes a look at what we learnt from Sunderland’s pre-season clash with Hartlepool United.
There were signs of promise from an experienced winger as a youngster got his first taste of senior action, but there's still work to do ahead of the new season.
On the day Joel Asoro left the club, another Swedish prospect appeared in the senior squad for the first time. After scoring seven goals in three pre-season outings for the under-23s, 18-year-old Benji Kimpioka was named on the bench before being presented with a chance to impress late on. The winger made an immediate impression, picking up the ball and beating his man with ease, courtesy of a blistering stepover. And in added time he bagged his eighth goal of pre-season, slamming a low finish into the corner from 25 yards to clinch a draw.
WORK TO DO
Jack Ross demanded more from his side following Tuesday’s performance at Darlington, and although post-match he said he got it, he is expecting a similar progression at Grimsby Town. A defensive mix-up involving makeshift centre-back Donald Love opened the door for Pools, but the Lads' failure to test Scott Loach during the opening 45 minutes was the primary frustration. Pre-season is still young and there's plenty of time to improve at both ends, but the League One curtain-raiser is looming on the horizon, and just three weeks separate the Lads from competitive football.
SIGNS OF PROMISE
Callum McManaman carried Sunderland’s biggest threat during the game. Desperate for ball throughout, he provided two excellent crosses for Lynden Gooch before the break, but on both occasions the USA international was unable to direct the ball on target. The winger might have done better when the ball dropped to him in the box midway through the first half, opting to cross rather than shoot, but after a mixed first season on Wearside, he looks to be on the right track and building up key momentum ahead of the new seas.
After missing the midweek trip to Darlington, Jon McLaughlin was handed the gloves and made his debut for the club. The Scotland international, who could do little to stop Pools’ opener, enjoyed a solid game between the sticks, making a number of decent saves while displaying a good range of passing combined with a quick release. In truth, the goalkeeper had little to do as his backline recovered from that early error, but when called upon McLaughlin proved he’s a safe pair of hands.