Niall Huggins on Sunderland’s missed opportunity, and the key area of their game that must improve

Sunderland’s Niall Huggins was left frustrated by the Black Cats’ home defeat at the hands of Cardiff City at the weekend.
Sunderland have to work on breaking down teams who are happy to sit back and defend – with the Black Cats’ home defeat against Cardiff City ‘100 percent’ a missed opportunity, according to Niall Huggins. The Black Cats dominated against the Bluebirds but drew a blank against the visitors’ defensive gameplan, with their frustration compounded when Cardiff took advantage of a lapse at the other end of the field to score a late set-piece winner.

It was a result that not only halted Sunderland’s three-game winning streak, but also brought their five-game unbeaten run to an end. Cardiff are not the first team to come to the Stadium of Light and put men behind the ball, with numerous sides adopting the same strategy this season and last.

But defender Huggins says it is up to Sunderland to find a way through, because it is a tactic they will face again and again this term. “It was a really frustrating game to play in,” said the 22-year-old.


“I thought in the first half we had a lot of chances. I think second half you keep trying to get the ball into the box and as it went on you could just see there was just a lack of quality in the final third just to get that final pass off.

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“Obviously they go up the other end late in the game and it’s just one lapse of judgement and they score and are going home with the win. It’s disappointing but we just have to take the positives from it and get back on the training ground next week and work on breaking down that low block because we are going to face it a lot this season.


“The Championship is such a tough league and you have teams coming here and fans probably expect us to dominate this game which I think we did. They [Cardiff] sit in a low block and it’s just tough, sometimes you might not get that final pass that you want, other weeks you might get it.
“On Sunday we didn’t, and one little lapse of judgement they score and take the win. One hundred percent it’s a missed opportunity, we all think we should have won that game but we just have to take the positives and take it on to Friday [when Sunderland take on Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough].”


The crowd of almost 42,000 at the Stadium of Light went home disappointed, but Huggins says they stuck with the team right to the final whistle. “The fans were really good, as they always are,” he said.


“First half there were a few opportunities and a few stray passes, but they stayed behind us. Every time we were on the transition the crowd was loud and pushed us on.

“Sometimes when you have that much possession it can get frustrating and you can have a bit of sloppiness that comes with that when you think you should be winning. The fans stayed with us the whole time and it was unfortunate to get that loss.”


With regular left-back Dennis Cirkin sidelined for the last three games with a hamstring problem, Huggins has had a run in the side – something he has had to wait patiently for, given that his first two seasons on Wearside have been beset by a series of injuries. Huggins said: “Obviously it’s unfortunate for Dennis, you don’t want to see any of your teammates go down.

“I’ve just had to make sure I’ve been ready because last season there were a few times we were low on full-backs and I just had an unfortunate run [of injuries].”


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