safc.com’s Oscar Chamberlain analyses all the action from Valley Parade as Sunderland continued their pre-season with a 3-2 win over Bradford City.
Jeremain Lens bossed proceedings and produced a dazzling performance in West Yorkshire, with the Dutchman assisting Josh Maja’s opener before adding a sensational second for the Black Cats inside ten minutes.
The Lads controlled the remainder of the game as Billy Jones also found the net, but the Bantams did reduce the deficit as Tony McMahon’s penalty teed up an interesting finale which saw Trialist strike in added time.
The team news from Valley Parade sent the red and white army into chatter as on-trial stopper Robbin Ruiter was selected in the starting XI by Simon Grayson. The 30-year-old left Utrecht at the end of last season following five years at the Stadion Galgenward. Ruiter was restricted to 15 appearances last campaign due to a collarbone injury, but he enjoyed a successful five seasons with the Dutch side making 138 appearances while helping them qualify for the UEFA European League on two occasions. Compatriot Jeremain Lens was also handed a starting berth as the winger and Wahbi Khazri were tasked with supplying Josh Maja and James Vaughan, but Aiden McGeady wasn’t included in the matchday squad.
OPEN THE FLOODGATES
Sunderland burst out of the blocks at Valley Parade and they created their first chance within 60 seconds, and although Lens and Josh Maja were unable to connect the Lads didn’t have to wait long for an opener. Lens led the charge and was at the centre of Sunderland’s play inside the final third, with the forward sending a pinpoint cross onto the boot of Maja who slammed home the first inside five minutes. Three minutes later the Dutchman had the chance to find Maja again, but he took it upon himself and didn’t disappoint. After powering into the box and putting Nathaniel Knight-Percival on his backside, the Dutchman lobbed the ball over Rouven Sattelmaier and into the net.
SUPER BILLY JONES
Grayson’s men continued to boss the game and they were scarcely troubled by the Bantams, with Ruiter comfortably dealing with a Shay McCartan effort after the Lads spurned possession. Wahbi Khazri and James Vaughan also impressed for the Black Cats as Lee Cattermole and Didier Ndong bossed the midfield, but the third came from an unlikely source. Lens orchestrated the opportunity with fine wing play on the left flank before Lamine Kone retrieved possession inside the box before finding Ndong. The Gabon midfielder’s effort was pushed away by Sattelmaier but Jones was on hand to bundle the ball in from close range as the Black Cats rammed home their advantage.
BANTAMS BACK IN IT
Sunderland picked up where they left off in the second period and Bradford grew increasingly frustrated. Maja limped off inside three minutes of the restart but Lens showed no signs of letting up, as the Bantams took to illegal measures to stop the Dutchman and his team-mates. A niggly period ensued and Jones picked up the first yellow card for hauling back Alex Gilliead before Lens again went close. But with 66 minutes played the Bantams struck back as McCartan was clipped in the box by Ndong and Geoff Eltringham pointed to the spot. Tony McMahon stepped up and sent Reuiter the wrong way to make it 3-1.
With the wind in their sails the home side started to press as they attempted to set up a grandstand finale – and they may well have done so had it not been for Ruiter. A flurry of changes took the flow out of Sunderland’s game and the Bantams took advantage, but the Dutchman was on hand to deny Taylor on two occasions, with the second stop on 85 minutes particularly catching the eye. Trialist did net at the death to make it 3-2, but overall is was a satisfying afternoon for the Black Cats…
Bradford City: Sattelmaier, McMahon, Chicksen, McCartan (Pybus, 74), Knight-Percival, Gilliead, Reeves, Law (Patrick, 74), Vincelot, Devine (Trialist, 74), Poleon (Taylor, 74).
Subs not used: Doyle, Kilgallon, Barr
Sunderland: Ruiter, Love (Matthews 82), Jones, Browning (O’Shea 79), Kone (Djilobodji 82), Cattermole, Ndong, Lens (Honeyman 66), Khazri (Gibson 79), Maja (Asoro 48), Vaughan.
Subs not used: Mika, Embleton, Stryjek.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham