Brandon Taylor had proven himself ready for first-team football a year ago. Well, that was according to Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson after an FA Cup First Round replay against Gillingham.
The Black Cats gaffer had been forced to promote Taylor from the Under 23s for the biggest match of his budding career last November after injuries and an international break ravished the squad available at the Stadium of Light.
Parkinson believed Taylor stepped up to the task more than admirably, feeling the academy graduate was Sunderland’s Man of the Match despite a 1-0 loss after turning in an excellent display in a three-man defence.
Opportunities in the first-team have been thin and far between ever since, with the Gateshead-born centre-half starting just three EFL Trophy ties – the latest of which coming on Tuesday night, as the Black Cats suffered a 2-1 defeat at Fleetwood Town.
Taylor was unable to replicate his efforts from 12-months before as Sunderland lost at Highbury, with the young stalwart far from the visiting side’s Man of the Match as efforts from Barrie McKay and Mark Duffy overturned James Hill’s early own goal.
Parkinson was full of praise for Taylor after his performance against Gillingham in 2019, noting via quotes by the Chronicle: “I was very pleased with Brandon. I thought he was probably our best player on the night.
“He loved every minute of it, but it was a tough game to play in because Gillingham play a certain way where they get the ball forward very early, long throws coming into the box, a lot of set-plays, and that’s a totally different type of game to the ones he has experienced at U23 level.
“But I don’t think he could do a lot more to show that he can play. Brandon and Jack [Bainbridge] are in that category and all they can do is take their chance when they get it, and Brandon certainly did that over the full 120 minutes – he played like a man.”
Parkinson would have hoped to see Taylor fare far better at Fleetwood on Tuesday night knowing how infrequent opportunities in the first-team have been over the past 12-months but, unfortunately, did not see the Black Cats product make good use of Sunderland already securing their progression through to the EFL Trophy Round of 32.
Over his 90 minutes on the field, the 6ft centre-half managed just a single successful tackle and two clearances, while not registering any interceptions or blocked shots, per SofaScore.
He further lost two of his three ground duels, two of his five aerial duels, turned over possession 16 times, committed two fouls and found teammates with just 28 of his 41 attempted passes for a 68% completion rate.
Of Taylor’s incomplete passes, 10 were long balls having attempted 16 but only completed six. Centre-half partners Jordan Willis and Ollie Younger, meanwhile, completed three of four and one of two respectively, as they sought to play the ball out from the back.
Taylor will now return to the U23s feeling he needs to prove himself once more, with Sunderland out of the FA Cup and set to contend the EFL Trophy Round of 32 in a month’s time.