Sunderland won their fifth competitive match of the season on Tuesday night as they beat Championship side Blackpool 3-2 in the second round of the League Cup.
Aiden O’Brien scored a superb hat-trick to win the match for Sunderland, having also scored in the first round against Port Vale. The forward caught the eye with his performance and deserves praise for his showing, but one player for Sunderland struggled in the match.
Alex Pritchard lined up in the number 10 position for the Black Cats and failed to put in a display that may lead to some doubts about whether he is capable of mixing it against a Championship opposition. He received the lowest SofaScore rating on the pitch (6.4) for the club, despite picking up an assist for one of O’Brien’s goals – with his corner falling kindly to the attacker in the box to slot in one of his three strikes.
In 73 minutes on the field, Pritchard only managed 36 touches of the ball. Anthony Patterson in goal, meanwhile, had 46 touches, which suggests that the ex-Huddersfield man did not get into the game as much as he should have in midfield. A team’s creative number 10 should be constantly getting on the ball and looking to make things happen, but he was not able to do that against Blackpool.
Although he registered an assist, his corner was the only chance he created in the match and he also missed one big chance to score – showing that his end product was poor, whilst his retention of the ball was not much better. He lost possession 10 times from 36 touches and won one of his four duels. He was not strong enough to retain the ball under pressure and Sunderland were, perhaps, fortunate in the end that his disaster display did not cost them the result.
He let Johnson down with his performance, but it is still early days for the Englishman at the Stadium of Light. Pritchard has plenty of time left this season to get back to his best and show that he can be a difference-maker at League One level, and potentially in the Championship if they can secure promotion to the second tier.