Sunderland 1-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Our last home game of the season was pretty much a metaphor for the entire season. Brilliant first half, providing hope and inspiration, only to succumb to an awful second half, and Sunderland sent the fans home with a whimper as opposed to a bang.

Wolves came and needed the win, and they got it. The fact was they simply seemed to want it more than us, and all things considered can't begrudge them the victory.

Here we go though, to recap the final home game of the 2010/11 season...

With so many injuries at the club Steve bruce was down to his last 11 fit players, and was forced to pack the bench with youngsters, including the likes of Jordan Cook, recently returning from a successful loan at Walsall, and young England defender Louis Laing.

We started the brightest, which was pretty good for a while, Bolo Zenden striking the woodwork from all of 25 yards within the opening 10 minutes, shortly followed by Ahmed Elmohamady whipping in a delicious ball which Stephane Sessegnon just couldn't connect with. You sensed this might be a good day for us, how foolish we were.

Sessegnon came close to opening the scoring again after 15 minutes or so, with a vicious turn and volley, before Phil Bardsley went on on of his mazy dribbles and fired wide.

Playing some lovely football, it was like watching Brazil. However, lets just remind ourselves who we are for a moment, we're Sunderland, things are obviously going to go horrifically wrong, and they did when former SAFC defender Jody Craddock opened the scoring.

A Wolverhapmpton corner was never really cleared and Stephen Hunt sent the cross in which landed at the feet of Jody Craddock. Craddock keeping himself forward following the corner and it paid off as he sent a controlled volley into the bottom right hand corner. 1-0 to the visitors.

We seemed to recapture that early zest following the goal however, Cristian Riveros dilly-dallied on the ball and couldn't get the shot in when well placed, Jordan Henderson firing over when the rebound eventually fell to him.

On the half-hour, Bolo Zenden, the hero of Bolton only a week ago lost possession cheaply in midfield, and Jamie O'Hara, who had an outstanding game, crashing a shot over off the bar with Simon Mignolet well beaten.

This all said, we got the goal our play had deserved. Bolo Zenden whipping in a corner which eluded everyone to fall to Stephane Sessgnon, who volley in with style from 4 yards.

As the game petered out towards half-time and our boys clearly on a high, Wolves found themselves unlucky not to be given a penalty, when Stephen Ward's cross/shot type thingy struck the outstretched arm of John Mensah. It wasn't the first time Mensah would be got at throughout the game.

The first action of the second half involved Mensah again, indirectly anyway, as he completely misjudged a long hoof up field, which allowed Steven Fletcher through on goal, only to be denied by Mignolet who had spread himself well. A massive let-off for us, and a chance wasted by the visitors.

We almost rubbed salt in the wound by going straight up the other end. Fantastic interplay between Bolo Zenden and Jordan Henderson lead to Steed Malbranque firing towards goal, only to be denied by Wayne Hennessey's finger tip save.

Still optimistic? I was, and of course that means Wolves are going to do something. They did, they scored. 2-1 to the midlands outfit as half-time substitute Matt Jarvis goes down the wing, stands one up to the back post and with Mensah and Mignolet floundering, Steven Fletcher nodded the ball in to send the large away following absolutely batshit mental. When the result is so important for Wolves, who could blame them either.

Wolves sensed blood, we thought 'here we go again'... Jamie O'Hara shot weakly, only for Mensah and Mignolet once AGAIN to get themselves all confused and nearly gift the visitors a third goal. Each left it for eachother before Mensah made a hash of the clearance, luckily Wolves couldn't capitalize. Absolutely comical stuff from us though.

Sunderland then had an appeal for a penalty down the other end, a bloody good one too as Sessegnon pulled the trigger, Stephen Hunt got himself in the way and sent Sessegnon crashing to the ground. Nothing given. Perhaps referee Mike Jones was levelling things out from earlier on.

The game seemed to be going just as Wolves wanted, they sat back, we offered little to no imagination. Frustrating when we showed plenty only an hour earlier in the day. Steve Bruce tried to shake things up. Craig Lynch and Ryan Noble came on for Steed Malbranque and Jordan Henderson. It mattered not, as Wolves grabbed their third goal to put the icing on the cake.

A cracker of a ball from O'Hara once again (Brucey, sign him up!) and George Elokobi, got ahead of Bardsley to send an bullet of a header past the despairing Mignolet. An already sparse crowd became more sparse.

Those that had left didn't miss much, Ryan Noble came a whisker away from grabbing his first ever Sunderland goal when he couldn't quite get on the end of Zenden's cross, before he himself  tested Hennessey with a low drive towards the bottom corner which was comfortably gathered.

Time ticked away, little else happened apart from young Louis Laing coming on to replace John Mensah in the final throws of the game. Congratulations to him for making his debut.

Ratings:

22 Mignolet - 5/10 - Didn't have much to do all day, and spent the rest of the time being confused.
02 Bardsley - 7/10 - Full of his usual endeavor.
05 Mensah - 5/10 - Seemed to be playing his way out of a permanent deal.
07 Zenden - 7/10 - Couldn't quite get it going in the second half, but gave it his all.
08 Malbranque - 6/10 Most creative player today, faded badly in the second half though.
10 Henderson - 7/10 - Played well for large parts of the game, didn't expect him of all people to be subbed.
15 Onuoha - 6/10 - Nothing particularly wrong.
16 Riveros - 5/10 - Big chance for him not taken, a shadow of the player at the World Cup.
25 Colback - 7/10 - Another decent game from Colback, solid if not spectacular.
27 Elmohamady - 7/10 - Back at right back, and got forward well.
28 Sessegnon - 7/10 - Great first half, looked like he couldn't be bothered in the second.

Subs:

31 Noble - 6/10 - A few touches here and there, quite lively.
38 Lynch - 5/10 - Seemed a bit weak and unwilling to put himself about for a big lad.
40 Laing - 6/10 - Only on for like, 3 minutes.

So the season ends with a bit of a whimper. Promised lots, delivered little. Bit like the season itself really as we look like ending up around the same spots as last year, as hope of the top ten go out the window.

A really disappointing performance in the second half following a very promising first 45 minutes. I've no idea what Bruce tells them at half-time, but he might want to start rewording things, or having a change of tact.

I think one thing both fans and Bruce will agree on is however, the season's end can't come quick enough. We can go away, get players back and re-tool ourselves over the summer.

Everyone must keep the faith. Today was a big let-down, but taking into account the situation where Wolves needed it, our injuries and options from the bench, I'm not sure we should have expected (myself included) any sort of result.

Credit to Wolves too, sometimes you just have to say on the day the best team won.

As said, lets keep the faith, there's only one more week left at least!

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