Sunderland 1-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 8th Feb 2020 17:09
Chris Maguire’s 81st minute goal saw Sunderland to a 1-0 victory over Town at the Stadium of Light, sending the Blues down to seventh in League One. The Blues were much the better team in the first half but the Black Cats, who are up to sixth, were on top in the second and had hit the woodwork twice prior to their winner.
Tomas Holy was among five players to return to the Town team, the Czech keeper coming in for Will Norris, who dropped to the bench, the on-loan Wolves man having started the last 10 League One matches.
The back three remained unchanged - skipper Luke Chambers, James Wilson and Luke Woolfenden - but there were forced switches of personnel in both wing-back roles.
Gwion Edwards was suspended so Janoi Donacien started on the right, while Luke Garbutt was out with a thigh strain and Myles Kenlock was on the left.
In midfield, Flynn Downes was again partnered by Cole Skuse with Jon Nolan, whose wife gave birth earlier in the week, in the more advanced role. Alan Judge dropped to the bench.
Up front, Will Keane was joined by James Norwood with Kayden Jackson among the subs. Emyr Huws was fit again after his ankle injury and on the bench.
Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson made one change from the team which lost 2-0 at Portsmouth last week with central defender Joel Lynch injured and Tom Flanagan taking his place.
Town carved out the first danger of the game in the seventh minute. After good work from Skuse and Nolan, Keane played a clever ball into the path of Kenlock breaking into the area on the left, however, the wing-back’s first touch let him down and his cross was blocked by Luke O'Nien.
A minute later, the home side had the ball in the net. Chris Maguire crossed from the right and Charlie Wyke stabbed home ahead of Holy but fortunately for the Blues having strayed offside.
Town were next to threaten. Following a patient spell of Town possession, Woolfenden crossed from the left and Keane looped a header over.
On 14 Kenlock played a superb ball down the left for Norwood to chase. The striker reached the ball as he broke into the area but Black Cats keeper Jon Mclaughlin was quickly off his line to block the former Tranmere man’s effort at goal.
Moments later, Nolan hit a low strike from the left which McLaughlin saved low at his post. Town were controlling the game with Sunderland struggling to see much of the ball.
In the 21st minute O'Nien was shown the game’s first yellow card for a needless tackle from behind on Wilson as the ball was going out of play, the former Wycombe man’s studs catching the defender well up his calf.
After play restarted, Keane found space to shoot in the area but his effort was blocked, then Kenlock looped a header over.
In the 23rd minute Downes was booked for protesting after a foul had been given against Skuse in the centre circle. The card was Downes’s eighth in League One this season, meaning he is two off a suspension.
A minute later, Keane knocked the ball back to Norwood on the edge of the box and Town’s top scorer struck a shot which flew not far past McLaughlin’s left post. Soon afterwards, Norwood had another go, a defender this time deflecting his strike through to the keeper.
Penalty area action became rarer with Town perhaps not quite so dominant but in the 33rd minute Chambers crossed from the right and Norwood flicked a header wide.
The home fans and players had become increasingly frustrated the longer the half progressed with virtually every decision made against them by referee Jeremy Simpson receiving a vitriolic response. On 40, George Dobson struck a rare Sunderland shot well wide.
The Black Cats saw more of the ball in the final minutes of the half but without seriously threatening. On 44 Holy came out a long way to clear a ball played down the Town right.
In one minute of time added on Downes made a strong run down the left before finding Nolan unmarked to his right but the Liverpudlian scraped his shot from just outside the box wide.
Boos from the home fans greeted the half-time whistle after a period in which the Blues had been very much on top.
Town had passed the ball around confidently and had created enough opportunities to have gone in ahead.
At the other end, Holy had had a quiet return to the Town XI with Sunderland not having managed a shot on target aside from the early disallowed goal.
There was a scare for the Blues soon after the restart, O'Nien’s cross from the right deflected off Woolfenden - his hand according to the home support - and reached Denver Hume at the far post, Donacien blocking his shot.
The Black Cats were making a bright start to the second period and went very close to going in front in the 49th minute.
Lynden Gooch made a mazy playground-style run into the Town box beating several Blues defenders before hitting a low shot which struck the post. The rebound fell to Wyke but the striker somehow sent it into the arms of the already grounded Holy with the goal gaping.
It was a lucky escape for Town who moments later had Norwood booked for stopping Sunderland from taking a freekick, however, the striker very much looked like the player who had initially been fouled.
The Blues were under the cosh for the first time in the game and in the 54th minute skipper Chambers was booked for a challenge on Wyke as he broke through the middle. The Town captain appeared to have won the ball, but the home support called for a red card, however, Wilson had got round to cover. Maguire’s freekick and a couple of subsequent efforts were blocked.
Holy made his first significant save of the game on 55, using the full extent of his height to tip Sunderland skipper Max Power’s looping effort over the bar at his far post as he frantically back-pedalled.
Town had found themselves pinned back inside their half but as the game reached the hour mark they began to find their feet and pass the ball around.
And in the 65th minute Town were handed a big opportunity to take the lead. Norwood and Keane exchanged passes as they broke into the area and Flanagan stabbed back to McLaughlin, who inexplicably picked the back-pass up.
Referee Simpson awarded an indirect freekick to the Blues 10 yards out to the right. After a lengthy consultation, Skuse rolled back to Norwood who rather mishit his effort and the ball looked on its way wide before a combination of Donacien and a defender saw it out of play.
Following the incident Town again found themselves under the cosh and unable to get out of their own half with blocks flying in from all angles.
On 70 Sunderland again hit the woodwork, Bailey Wright smashing a powerful effort from 10 yards out which cannoned off Holy’s bar with a subsequent effort blocked as Town desperately hung on. A minute later, Town swapped Norwood and Nolan for Kayden Jackson and Huws.
The Welshman was immediately into the action, taking a McLaughlin fist to the cheek as he and the keeper challenged for a high ball in the area. The Town players appealed for a penalty but referee Simpson - a man fond of awarding penalties as Blues supporters will remember from the game at Reading in September 2016 when he gave three - wasn’t interested.
Hume shot over for Sunderland in the 77th minute with the home side still on top but not quite as rampant as earlier in the half.
A minute later, January signing Josh Earl was handed his Blues debut from the bench and in a mask protecting his cheekbone injury for Donacien, who limped off. The on-loan Preston man went to the left of the back three with Woolfenden going to right wing-back.
Soon after, Sunderland switched wing-back Hume for striker Kyle Lafferty as they chased the three points.
And in the 81st minute, they scored the goal which claimed them. The ball was knocked forward to Lafferty on the edge of the area on the left from where the Northern Irish international played it to Maguire, who hit a powerful strike from just outside the area past Holy to his right.
Three minutes after the goal, Wilson tripped over the ball midway inside the Town half but Skuse got back to end the danger.
Town were looking to push for a leveller as the game moved into its final scheduled minutes and on 89 had a big chance. Jackson broke into the area on the right with the ball with only McLaughlin to beat but dallied before shooting and Flanagan stabbed back to the keeper.
Midway through four minutes of injury time, a long throw from the right was half-cleared to Downes but his volley flew well into the stand behind the goal.
That was the last chance of the game and referee Simpson’s whistle confirmed Town’s third defeat in a row.
The Blues were the best side in the first half and will rue not having made their dominance count, but it was a different game in the second with Sunderland very much on top and hitting the woodwork on two occasions before Maguire’s goal.
Town, who are still to beat anyone currently in the top eight, only fleetingly showed glimpses of their first-half display in the second period with their best chance the indirect freekick which Norwood somewhat wasted.
On the balance of the two halves, Sunderland created the more clear-cut chances during the second than Town did in the first and overall probably deserved the three points.
The Blues were certainly better than they were at Rotherham and at home to Peterborough but ultimately with the same result.
Town are out of the top six for the first time since August and have now won just four of their last 19 in League One.
Town, who travel to face AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday, last lost three in a row in the third tier in their opening three games at the start of 1956/57, their most campaign at this level prior to this season.
Sunderland: J McLaughlin, Willis, Wright, Flanagan, O'Nien, Power (c), Dobson, Hume (Lafferty, 79), Gooch (C McLaughlin 90), Wyke, Maguire. Unused: Burge, Watmore, Scowen, Ozturk, Semenyo.
Town: Holy, Chambers (c), Wilson, Woolfenden, Donacien (Earl 78), Skuse, Downes, Kenlock, Nolan (Huws 71), Norwood (Jackson 71), Keane. Unused: Norris, Judge, Sears, Dozzell. Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire). Att: 32,756 (Town: 1,956).
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