MICHAEL BEALE admits Sunderland’s attacking threat was seriously dented in last night’s 1-0 defeat to Huddersfield Town because they were unable to get Jack Clarke into the game.

Clarke had one of his quietest nights of the season as Matty Pearson and Jack Rudoni successfully doubled up on him for most of the game at the John Smith’s Stadium.

With the winger being successfully shackled, Sunderland struggled to create chances, with the Huddersfield defence only really being stretched in the final five minutes of the game.


Beale denies his side are completely reliant on Clarke for their goal threat, but he conceded they struggled last night with their star man unable to make an impact.

He said: “We’ve done okay recently because other people have scored, but we’ve found out tonight that Jack is human because some weeks, he’s been super-human, hasn’t he? He’s been absolutely outstanding.

“He had a much quieter night, although he still had moments in the game. He still picked passes when he came inside, and in the first half, I thought he was our most composed player.

“It was better in the second half when we had Jobe and Romaine running down with him, but sometimes you have to give credit to the opposition. They’re fighting for their lives and they made it really difficult for us to play our football. We’re going to have to get much better in both boxes.”  

Sunderland’s midfield make-up didn’t work in the first half, with Abdoullah Ba struggling as the central attacking midfielder and Jobe Bellingham being largely wasted in his position on the right-hand side.

Beale said: “We know they go man for man in midfield, so we tried to put an extra one in there. We tried to play Pierre (Ekwah) and Jobe high, and Abdoullah in behind, and we had moments, but we flipped it over.

“I thought there were times in the first half where we were wasteful, where we broke free and could have got the ball to Jack or Naz (Rusyn) earlier, down the sides. When we did get down the side in the first half, some of our quality wasn’t good enough.

“I thought (Matty) Pearson had a good game against Jack. From the first whistle, he made it physical, and it was difficult for Jack. Rudoni doubled up on him. In the second half, we moved Jobe on that side a bit closer and got some freedom down that side.

“There was a couple of moments where Naz got in down the side in the first half and we weren’t picking people out. Our quality in the final third all night wasn’t good enough.

“It’s a disappointing night. I felt Huddersfield made it physical in the duels, forcing us back, and there were times in the first half where I felt we had to give a bit back, and I’m not sure we did that well.”