Alex Neil praises his strikers after Sunderland’s win over Bristol City


The contributions of strikers Ellis Simms and Ross Stewart pleased Sunderland manager Alex Neil as his newly promoted side picked up a well-deserved three points from a 3-2 victory at Ashton Gate.

Everton loanee Simms marked his debut by shooting the visitors ahead within four minutes and scoring the second to equalize after goals from Andreas Weimann and Chris Martin gave City the lead.

Stewart headed home Alex Pritchard’s 72nd-minute cross to send traveling fans from a crowd of more than 24,000 to raucous celebrations at the Ashton Gate.

Neil said: “I think Ellis and Ross are absolutely brilliant people who never give the Bristol defenders any peace of mind.

“Ellis is very strong, but he is a rare person because he is also quick and the two of them complement each other very well.

“We signed him to promote Ross, but also to play alongside him and give us another dynamic, being there for all to see.

“We now have two top young players who we can play with and both have goals.

“If there is disappointment, it is in the goals we conceded. For some reason we tried to play offside and conceded a goal.

“Their second target is as light as you will see at this level. We finished either and then didn’t cover the space in the middle fast enough.

“That is too weak. But we didn’t feel sorry for ourselves and it was after that goal that we played our best football.

“Their goalkeeper (Dan Bentley) made an unbelievable save to deny Ellis’ hat-trick and I feel we could have scored more than three goals.

“Bristol had some good plays in the first half, but we were really dangerous even then and deserved to win.

“Between their second goal and the final eight minutes, we were absolutely dominant.”

City’s day got off to a bad start when midfielder Matty James was forced to withdraw after suffering a calf injury during the warm-up, replaced by Han-Noah Massengo.

But home manager Nigel Pearson admitted: “Although we missed out on Matty’s quality on the ball, it was no day for excuses.

“If we continue to defend like that, it will be a long season. Last week at Hull, I could argue we were unlucky, but I certainly can’t say that today.

“The goals we conceded were really poor. It’s been five games where we’ve conceded in two, so we’re giving ourselves too much work to do.

“The first was a personal mistake and the second came from our throw-in. The third time was too easy for them.

“We had the opportunity to show a crowd what we were and didn’t take it.

“To score two goals at home and not get anything out of the game is disappointing. We put ourselves in a winning position, but couldn’t capitalize.

“Even though we had enough chances to grab something, we couldn’t help but complain.

“Acknowledge them for pressuring us. Their two fronts were hectic, but we made fundamental mistakes for which we were punished.

“It was a huge disappointment. We’ve dominated ownership, but can’t do enough with it.

“However, what’s important is our defensive weakness and that’s a problem we have to deal with.”

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