Sunderland continued their terrific start to the 2021/22 campaign with a thrilling 3-2 win over Championship side Blackpool in the second round of the League Cup on Tuesday night.
The Black Cats have now won five of their six competitive matches this season, including three of four in League One and both of their cup outings. Lee Johnson’s side went 1-0 down early on in the game, but a stunning hat-trick from Aiden O’Brien ensured that the third-tier outfit put their name in the hat for the next round.
O’Brien stole the headlines, and rightly so, with his three goals aiding Sunderland’s progression to the next stage of the competition. Any player scoring a hat-trick in a 3-2 win deserves the plaudits, but one player who was a bit of an unsung hero for the Black Cats against Bolton was Bailey Wright at centre-back.
“An excellent showing at the heart of defence. Defended resolutely throughout and was good in his decision making on the ball.”
Wright had a whopping 98 touches of the ball during the match, the most by any player on the pitch by some distance, with Frederik Alves coming in second with 78 touches. From this, he completed 88% of his passes and an impressive 11 of his 18 long passes, whilst creating one chance for his teammates. This shows that he used the ball effectively and controlled the game for Sunderland from centre-back.
His defending was also eye-catching. Per SofaScore, he made five clearances, one tackle, one interception and two blocks to keep Blackpool at bay as they pushed to get back into the game.
One of his blocks was particularly crucial. He made a huge intervention to stop Blackpool from taking the lead – with the score at 1-1 – in the 43rd minute, which could have changed the complexion of the game. The Black Cats may not have gone on to win the game had they gone 2-1 down at that point, as it would have given the second-tier side momentum and confidence heading into the seocond-half.
So, whilst Wright did not put the ball in the back of the net three times like O’Brien, he was pivotal in Sunderland’s play both in and out of possession thanks to his passing skills and his ability to make key stops in-and-around his own box.