|Sunderland 0 v 2 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 3rd February 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Sunderland 0-2 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 3rd Feb 2018 16:52
Joe Garner’s 10th of the season and an Adam Matthews own goal saw Town to a 2-0 away victory over second-bottom Sunderland, their first ever win at the Stadium of Light and their first on Wearside since 1989. Garner netted a brilliant low strike on 35 and Matthews stabbed over his own line in injury time.
Freddie Sears, Cole Skuse and Grant Ward returned to the line-up with the Blues in their usual 4-2-3-1 system.
Sears - who scored his first goal of the season for the U23s on Monday with his last senior strike 292 days ago against Newcastle on April 17th last year - in for Bersant Celina, who dropped to the bench, and Ward taking the place of David McGoldrick, who didn’t travel due to the knock he suffered against Wolves last week.
Cole Skuse returned in the centre of midfield alongside Callum Connolly for Stephen Gleeson, who was among the subs with new signing Mustapha Carayol.
Sunderland made five changes from the team which lost 3-1 at Birmingham on Tuesday with all three deadline day signings, keeper Lee Camp, midfielder Ovie Ejaria and striker Ashley Fletcher, starting. Veteran defender John O’Shea returned after illness, while Billy Jones was also back in the side.
Town started on the front foot, winning an early corner which was cleared ahead of Cameron Carter-Vickers by Tyias Browning. Moments later, Black Cats debutant Ejaria struck the game’s first shot against a Town defender.
The home side, who began playing a back three, carved out the game’s first serious chance in the ninth minute, Fletcher playing in Joel Asoro on the right of the box but the Swedish U21 international shot beyond the advancing Bartosz Bialkowski’s right post.
The Blues were giving away possession needlessly all too often in the opening minutes and on 12 that led to another chance, but Asoro’s shot looped off a Town defender and over Bialkowski for a corner.
The Wearsiders were having a good spell with the Blues’ backline forced to clear a number of balls cut across the area. On 15 Jonas Knudsen just did enough to put Billy Jones off as Bryan Oviedo’s freekick from the left reached the wing-back at the far post.
On 19 Martyn Waghorn, who started his career with Black Cats, his local side, sent Sears away on the right following a corner. The ex-West Ham man overhit his pass into the path of Ward breaking down the centre but the former Spurs midfielder still got on to the ball and was fouled by Asoro, who was shown the game’s first yellow card.
And from the freekick, the Blues were a whisker from going in front. South Shields-born Waghorn, playing his first game back at the Stadium of Light since leaving Sunderland for Leicester in 2010, curled his shot beyond debutant keeper Camp but off the angle of post and bar.
Sunderland went almost as close at the other end in the 24th minute, skipper O’Shea heading an Oveido corner from the left back across goal and not too far wide.
Sunderland had had most of the game’s chances, but on 35 the Blues took the lead via a move started and finished by Joe Garner.
The striker initially played a brilliant cross-field ball to Jordan Spence, who brought it forward on the right and crossed deep to Knudsen, who nodded into the feet of Garner on the edge of the box. The striker held off his man for what seemed like an age before hitting a shot on the turn, which beat his former Forest team-mate Camp and nestled in the corner of the net.
It was the summer signing from Rangers’ 10th goal of the season - making him Town’s equal top scorer with fellow former Ibrox man Waghorn - and almost certainly his best.
The goal gave the Blues renewed impetus and they pinned Sunderland back in their own half for much of the remainder of the half.
And in the single minute of injury time, the Blues doubled their lead. Connolly did well on the right after a Town freekick on the left had been cleared and fed the excellent Ward, who took the ball past Cattermole before fizzing powefully across the six-yard box where Matthews bundled over his own line from a matter of inches as he sought to prevent Sears from getting the final touch.
The half ended soon afterwards to muted and resigned boos from the home fans, while the Blues were applauded off by their travelling support.
Town had started brightly but Sunderland were on top for much of the half and had created most of the chances - Waghorn’s freekick against the woodwork aside - before Garner’s superb opener.
But the Blues were very much in the ascendancy having gone in front and had been pushing for a second in the minutes before Matthews - who previously scored an own goal winner when playing for Cardiff at Portman Road in 2010 - inadvertently doubled their lead.
Five minutes after the restart, Asoro lashed well over or the Wearsiders after a freekick on the right had been cleared. Soon after, as Sunderland broke forward, Garner was booked for a foul, Carter-Vickers eventually forcing Fletcher wide from a promising central position as the referee waved play on.
At the other end, Connolly scuffed wide, then on 58 Sunderland swapped Ethan Robson for George Honeyman and Asoro for Kazenga Lua Lua.
Town were again guilty of giving the ball away needlessly all too often and putting themselves under pressure but without the Black Cats being able to capitalise.
However, Ward, who had been behind most of the Blues’ attacking play, almost created another goal in the 61st minute but Sears was just unable to get the ball under control.
A minute later, Sunderland claimed a penalty when sub Honeyman’s cross from the right hit Knudsen on the arm. Whether there was any intention or otherwise, a lot of referees might have given it. However, the official that mattered, Darren England, wasn’t interested. Soon after, sub LuaLua shot over after a loose ball fell to him in the area with Bialkowski out of his goal.
Town were happy to sit back on their two-goal lead and repel whatever the home side threw at them. However, they were struggling to create much of note on the break.
Aiden McGeady replaced own goal-scorer Matthews for the home side, then Bialkowski saved from LuaLua on 70. Two minutes later, Gleeson replaced the outstanding Ward for the Blues.
Waghorn should have made it 3-0 in the 75th minute when he broke away behind the home side’s backline but stabbed just wide of Camp’s left post.
Garner and Gleeson both saw shots blocked on 81 as Town threatened inside the Sunderland box, then Luke Hyam took over from Skuse for the final minutes. In injury time, Adam Webster replaced Garner. Seconds later, loud boos from the home fans greeted the final whistle.
Having established their two-goal lead before the break, Town were never hugely troubled by Sunderland in the second half, a solid display from the backline - with Carter-Vickers having his best game for the Blues - preventing the Black Cats from ever seriously testing Bialkowski. The closest call was the penalty claim which on another day would have been given.
Waghorn will feel he should have scored on his return to the Stadium of Light - where Town had lost their previous seven and had only ever claimed a single point - his opportunity the best of the second half and a third goal would have capped a very decent away display from the Blues.
Town’s first away win since the 1-0 victory at Derby at the end of November sees them remain 12th and still eight points off the play-offs ahead of next week's home game against rock-bottom Burton Albion, who lost 3-2 at Aston Villa today.
Sunderland: Camp, Jones, O’Shea (c), Browning, Cattermole, Robson (Honeyman 58), Oviedo, Matthews (McGeady 70), Ejaria, Fletcher, Asoro (LuaLua 58). Unused: Ruiter, Maja, Gooch, Love.
Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Carter-Vickers, Chambers (c), Knudsen, Skuse (Hyam 81), Connolly, Sears, Waghorn, Ward (Gleeson 74), Garner (Webster 90). Unused: M Crowe, Iorfa, Celina, Carayol. Referee: Darren England (South Yorkshire). Att: 27,909 (Town: 921).
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