Sunderland’s unbeaten start to the season ended after a 2 – 0 defeat to Leeds United in a windswept SOL on Saturday tea time. Goals from Samuel Saiz and Stuart Dallas compounded Simon Grayson to his first defeat as his side produced a disappointing performance and were comfortably beat.
Sunderland remained unbeaten going into the game thanks to the 1 -1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough through the week. The lads started the game well taking an early lead with George Honeyman notching another well taken goal but we had to settle for a point after the home side grew into the second half and pegged us back.
Grayson’s side seemed to run out of steam towards the end of the game which is to be expected due to the gruelling nature of the start with the games coming thick and fast but also highlights the need for squad reinforcements. The gaffer revealed that a deal had been agreed to sign winger Max Gradel on loan from Bournemouth but the player opted to return to France whilst Sunderland have also reportedly been offered Robert Snodgrass from West Ham although finances remain a sticking point. With twelve days still remaining of the transfer window it looks like there could be still several incomings and outgoings on Wearside.
There was some good news on the injury front with Bryan Oviedo and Jack Rodwell nearing a return after featuring for the under 23’s although youngster Josh Maja was ruled out for five weeks after undergoing a knee operation. After naming an unchanged side for the first three Championship games so far Grayson kept faith in the same eleven and was almost rewarded with Sunderland starting the game well.
McGeady produced a good bit of skill in the midfield to beat two players and start a move with Galloway flying down the left hand side and delivering an inviting ball across the six yard box which Grabban just failed to make contact with. On twenty minutes Sunderland almost took the lead after Vaughan played in Grabban who turned smartly back onto his left foot and clipped the ball goal wards only for a Leeds defender to get back and head it onto the bar from his own goal line.
Almost instantly after the chance Leeds took the lead when left back Brendan Galloway was again exposed down the right wing with Alioski skipping free before squaring for Samuel Saiz who fired past Jason Steele from a tight angle. Unlike the first home game of the season against Derby Sunderland didn’t react well to going a goal behind and almost conceded a second when another ball from the right from Alioski was headed over by Pablo Hernandez. Aiden McGeady who started well faded from the game and him and Honeyman ended up switching flanks hoping to find some spark.
Sunderland got a bit desperate despite getting into some decent positions the wrong decision was made with players like N’Dong and Vaughan opting to shoot from ridiculous positions when there was better options on. Galloway got booked before the break after hacking down Alioski and to be fair it was the closest he got to him all game.
After the break Sunderland again were second best and Simon Grayson made a double change ten minutes after the restart replacing Vaughan and Galloway with Khazri and Matthews. Leeds were forced into a change when their forward Caleb Ekuban pulled up hurt though he took an age to go off after rolling around on the floor which infuriated the crowd.
Leeds won a free kick on the edge of the box with twenty minutes to go after Lamine Kone, who was otherwise pretty solid, handled after making a hash of a long ball over the top. Alioski took it and powered a shot goal wards which Steele parried away to safety. Grayson made his final change fifteen minutes from time with Lee Cattermole making way for Joel Asoro but the youngster had been on the pitch only a few minutes when the visitors doubled their lead.
Again the goal came down Sunderland’s left this time Adam Matthews offered Saiz too much space and he crossed for Stuart Dallas to thump a header past Steele. Our marking appeared nonexistent with Dallas having a free header with the goal emptying the SOL as fans streamed out in their thousands.
N’Dong was booked for a challenge which didn’t even look like a foul to me which prompted another break in play as Leeds cleverly ran down the clock. McGeady produced a few flashes of creativity before the end first he cut inside and had a shot well blocked before soon after crossing for Billy Jones who failed to score from six yards out finding the side netting despite being in acres of space.
It wasn’t enough though from McGeady or Sunderland who really looked like a side missing a cutting edge. You can’t fault the commitment, desire or effort from Sunderland but there is a severe lack of quality especially in the final third.
Final Score: Sunderland 0 Leeds United 2
ALS Man of the Match: Didier N’Dong
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