Sunderland slipped into the bottom three of the Championship after losing yet again at the SOL on Saturday afternoon with Cardiff City winning 2-1. The visitors raced into an early lead after Craig Bryson volleyed past Robin Ruiter as Sunderland’s defence slept before the lads drew level just after half time when Lynden Gooch won and then converted a penalty. It was another penalty which saw Cardiff leave Sunderland victorious after Lamine Kone was penalised for a push allowing Joe Ralls to seal the points from the spot.
After exiting the Carabao Cup with a whimper away at Everton on Wednesday Sunderland were back to the bread and butter of the league as the high flying Bluebirds Cardiff City headed from Wales to Wearside. Sunderland were hoping to end a baron spell of home woe having failed to win a game in 15 attempts at the SOL losing nine and drawing six since a 1-0 win over Watford over last December.
Simon Grayson had on loan Everton pair Ty Browning and Brendan Galloway available after they couldn’t face their parent club at Goodison Park. On the injury front the injured trio of John O’Shea, Marc Wilson and Aiden McGeady were closing in on a return but remained doubtful for the visit of the Bluebirds.
Cardiff travelled to Wearside having had a great start to the season with Neil Warnock at the helm only being held off top spot in the league by goal difference. In his pre match press conference Warnock backed his opposite numbers championship manager credentials and said that given time Simon Grayson will ‘crack it’ at Sunderland.
As expected Grayson rang the changes after Wednesday’s defeat with Sunderland lining up in a 3-5-2 formation with Ruiter behind a back three of Wilson, Kone and Browning. Adam Matthews and Bryan Oviedo were the wingbacks with N’Dong, Cattermole and Honeyman in the midfield. Lynden Gooch played just off James Vaughan.
As happened the last time we tried this system we seemed lost and fell behind to an early goal after Sunderland failed to deal with a long ball. The ball from the keeper was flicked over Kone into the path of Bryson who made no mistake with his volley slamming it past Ruiter. It was as route one as they come but Sunderland just did not deal with it.
The visitors were on top for the opening 20 minutes with Gunnarrson forcing Ruiter into a low save before Ralls curled a shot over the bar. Sunderland were being exploited down our left side with the Cardiff winger giving Oviedo a torrid time and we would have been further behind had Wilson and Cattermole not done well to block a shot after Oviedo was exposed.
This prompted Grayson into a tactical change and we reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with Matthews moving to left back allowing Oviedo to play as a left winger with Browning moving to right back. The change in system worked to a degree as Sunderland started to see a bit more of the ball and stem the tide of the visitors and we had our first effort on goal midway through the first half when Oviedo and Gooch combined allowing the American a sight of goal but the keeper held his effort.
We almost drew level before the break when Oviedo struck the woodwork from 25 yards with a good strike but unfortunately for the Costa Rican it rebounded off the inside of the post and away to safety.
Neither side made any changes on the break but Sunderland continued to be the team in the ascendency and Gooch was played in on goal thanks to a great clipped ball from Matthews but the keeper thwarted his effort from a tight angle. Gooch then won a penalty after a bit of skill drew a foul and saw him hauled down in the box and the youngster did well composing himself and converting the spot kick sending the keeper the wrong way.
Both sides made attacking changes with McGeady replacing Honeyman whilst Warnock threw on former QPR winger Junior Hoilet as the game started opening up. Ruiter did well to get down low to his left to save from Bryson before making another good save turning a low shot from Manga round the post.
We conceded a penalty from the resulting corner when Lamine Kone was penalised for a push and Ruiter could do nothing to prevent Cardiff retaking the lead as Ralls slammed the penalty past him with fifteen minutes to play. Grayson gambled throwing on youngsters Ethan Robson and Joes Asoro but an equaliser wasn’t forthcoming despite Asoro showing a few glimpses of quality on the flank.
Cattermole had a half chance from corner but sliced his volley high and into the keepers grasp before McGeady also drew a save from him with a tame shot. In terms of performance it was certainly a lot better than the previous two home games but it still falls way short of what is required.
Speaking of short, there was another Short out banner unfurled in the South Stand in injury time but it was quickly confiscated by the stewards. They couldn’t stop the stand chanting Short out though o the booing on the full time whistle after yet another defeat.
Final Score – Sunderland 1 Cardiff City 2
ALS Man of the Match – Adam Matthews
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