When Jake Vokins stepped into a Sunderland shirt for the first time last weekend, fans will have been rejoicing.
At long last, their problems in a left-back area had been solved – so they thought anyway. The error-prone Callum McFadzean had been ditched and in came a young defender with a portion of Premier League experience; Jake Vokins.
Though, after two helpings of action for the Southampton loanee, it’s clear that McFadzean might actually be the better option.
The Mackems tasted defeat on the road under Lee Johnson for the very first time on Tuesday evening, bemoaning a night of individual mistakes that ensured they lost 2-1 to Shrewsbury.
Goalkeeper Remi Matthews came racing out of goal but missed his punch for the first and then for the second, it was Vokins who was caught napping.
A ball from the left-hand side was curled deep towards the back post where the 20-year-old had switched off, failed to track his man, and thus, enable a simple tap in.
But while Matthews atoned for his error with a fantastic stop from a corner, mistakes appeared to litter Vokins’ game.
In short, he was abysmal at left-back, being caught out of position on numerous occasions and diving into challenges. It followed a desperate display on debut against MK Dons last weekend. On this occasion, he didn’t dive in but instead let his opponents enjoy the freedom of Buckinghamshire, failing to close them down.
Writing after the match, Roker Report were incredibly damning in their analysis of the young defender. They said: “Hard to remember many worse Sunderland debuts. Vokins gave off strong Brendan Galloway vibes with his inability to read the flight of the ball. His passing and decision making was substandard too.”
It seems as though the youngster’s confidence was dented by that outing judging by the display he put in on Tuesday. Vokins won just two of six ground duels he contested, proving to be incredibly weak in the challenge. Shrewsbury winger Harrison Chapman bombarded him down the right, not only scoring but winning a colossal eight duels from 11 attempted.
The Southampton man saw very little of the ball, completing just 15 passes – a percentage of 68% from the 22 he tried to make. That tally was worse than every single Mackems player on the night besides Charlie Wyke.
It was a miserable performance and it will now take quite something for the defender to prove himself to Johnson. It’s safe to say this hasn’t been the brightest of starts to Kristjaan Speakman’s recruitment campaign.