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Chronicle Live
James Hunter

Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray left frustrated after his side were held at Luton

Tony Mowbray says there was a sense of frustration amongst the Sunderland players after they had to settle for a point at Luton Town. The Black Cats fell behind in injury-time at the end of the first period when Carlton Morris put the hosts ahead at Kenilworth Road - a goal in which Sunderland defender Danny Batth felt he was fouled in the build-up - but Elliot Embleton came off the bench to level with a little over ten minutes remaining.

Sunderland brought on attacking player in the second half and had chances to win the match near the end, and the fact they could not find a second goal explains the disappointment in the dressing room. "We were frustrated in the dressing room that that didn't happen," said Mowbray.

"It was a fine balance today between having enough physicality on the pitch, but then as the game went on and we needed a goal, we had to put more footballers on the pitch. The only way to beat them, really, is to put your footballers on the pitch and keep the ball off them and move it through their lines.

READ MORE: Sunderland player ratings as Amad stars and Michut impresses from the bench in Luton draw

"But if you start like that, you could be 3-0 down after 20 minutes because you can't win a header and you can't defend, and people will say 'what are you doing?' We had to build what we wanted to play into our game as we went along."

Mowbray brought in Bailey Wright for his first league start of the season, explaining that he needed the extra physicality alongside Batth in the centre of defence to deal with Luton's threat. He said: "Every team we play we watch them, we see their strengths, their weaknesses, and this is a team that drops a lot of diagonals in your box, they are very direct.

"They try to work it up and then they'll drop it in from high up the pitch, if you allow them. They put a lot of diagonals in your box, so you need both your centre-halves to be strong to deal with them whether they are coming in from the left or the right.

"It was a pretty obvious decision [to play Wright] on the day. We had to get it tactically right and in the first 15 minutes we struggled a bit, the ball was bouncing around our six-yard box and we didn't deal with it well enough.

"We got to grips with it."

Of the Luton goal, Mowbray said: "Danny Batth says he got dragged to the ground and he was on the floor, because I said 'where on Earth were you?' They were on the touchline and the boy kicked it across the six-yard box and then it was sidefooted in.

"The centre-half should close the near-post space, that's what his job is, so any low ball, you clear. I have watched it back and he was on his backside, so now I understand why.

"I don't know whether it was a deliberate foul and it was one the referee should have seen, but it was a really poor goal to lose because we do a lot of work on defensive organisation to stop those."

Mowbray praised Amad for his performance, with the on-loan Manchester United wideman producing arguably his best display since arriving on Wearside. He said: "Amad was amazing. Not just his talent and all the shots he had when the keeper made some good saves, but his intensity, his aggression, his appetite to run back and win the ball back.

"I entrusted him to play central midfield there when we had Patrick on one side and Jack on the other. I thought he was really impressive, and that's what he has to do.

"It's only your performance level that will get you in the team week-in, week-out."

On-loan Everton striker Ellis Simms was included on the bench for the first time since he suffered a toe injury in mid-September, and he played the final 20 minutes and made a big difference in the final third. "We nearly scored straightway when he came on, there was a clearance off the line from Jack Clarke," said Mowbray.

"Ellis gives us an outlet so that when we start our build-up from the back and teams press us, we can play off the front and bypass the first five players that are trying to press you. If you haven't got a target to hit, the little lad up front gets swamped by a big 6ft 4in centre-half and the ball just keeps coming back.

"Ellis can put his body in and either draw fouls or set the midfield off and away."


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