Match Report: Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur - All Good Things Come To An End

Matthew Lewis

Our decent little run has come to an end as we finish of 2012 with a home defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur. Trusth be told, it was a relatively poor game in which we created little and the better side on the day won. Here's a longer version of that though...

You can see arguments from the national media at large that the game had a very boring and dull opening. It's an understandable argument, but it was certainly more of a pragmatic start for us. We could have easily come out the blocks flying with everyone still buzzing from the Boxing Day win over Manchester City but that would have been foolish against an equally in-form and talented Tottenham Hotspur.

Emmanuel Adebayor was the first of anyone to force a 'keeper into a save which Simon Mignolet made routinely following a tame and scuffed effort from the edge of the area.

Craig Gardner - yet to get his eye in - tried another of those freekicks he likes to do so often after Johnson was bumbled over 30-yards from goal. This one was an easy gather for Hugo Lloris. I'd never actually really noticed this until today but he kind of looks like Craig Gordon's better looking brother. A story for another day though.

A big danger area today was going to be the gamble of Matt Kilgallon in an unfamiliar left-back position up against Aaron Lennon. In a foot race on 13 minutes Lennon was the clear winner but thankfully Moussa Dembele fouled Gardner to nullify the danger.

We saw the good and bad of Kilgallon in the space of ten seconds not long after this. Having slid to make a great interception he chose to take on Lennon rather than just clear it and lost possession. Having seen the occasional England winger run in to the box the ball eventually fell to Sandro who's shot was spilled but well recovered by Mignolet on a slippery surface.

Between these incidents though we carved a chance of our own. A rarity in the opening half an hour. James McClean did superbly to check back on his run and cross right-footed into the box to the back post where Adam Johnson had bust a gut to get there. He was able to play the ball back into the mixer but sadly neither Steven Fletcher nor Stephane Sessegnon had gambled on Johnson winning the race to the ball and Michael Dawson could clear.

Spurs began to take control of the first half though and should have really found themselves ahead. Gareth Bale headed wide after yet another Lennon cross while Adebayor also wasted a decent opportunity, although was under pressure from Gardner and Mignolet.

With half an hour gone it looked like it was going to be that sort of day for Adebayor. There's didn't appear to be much danger when Jermaine Defoe fired a low and tame effort towards goal. Firstly, Mignolet should have had this but instead Carlos Cuellar opted to try and clear. He didn't and it fell to the Togolese striker just three yards out. Incredibly, he hit the bar and we lived to fight on.

Signs of a revival came for us though with the worst of the storm weathered. Adam Johnson's curling freekick was flicked on by Cuellar at the edge of the area and had Lloris scrambling backwards despite it landing comfortably on the top of the net.

Then just before half time, we took the lead through the most unlikely of men.

Sessegnon was clearly fouled by Kyle Walker and a freekick was duly awarded. Thankfully it was at too wide an angle for Gardner to have a strike and Seb Larsson whipped the ball in. A flick towards goal was rebuffed by Lloris, as was Steven Fletcher's follow up but only as far as John O'Shea. The Irishman all alone inside the area had a simple tap in to score his first goal for us in 53 appearances.

Against the run of play? Absolutely. At half time it was still clear that despite the lead we needed to up our game significantly in order to hold on to it. You can't grumble too much though about having a goal lead though.

The first action of the second half was seeing another Sunderland defender on the scoresheet. Unfortunately Carlos Cuellar's bullet of a header was into his own net for Spurs to equalise.

It was a bad few minutes for Cuellar as he was booked for a clear foul on Lennon, however the resulting freekick was dealt with. The corner which followed should have too but Cuellar - only under pressure from Craig Gardner - diverted the ball unwittingly past Simon Mignolet.

Then things went from bad to worse. We hadn't pressed the self-destruct button for a while, so it was probably due.

Aaron Lennon played the ball off Matt Kilgallon and right back into his own path. Defenders scrambled to get back to catch up to him but it was all in vain as the dinked the ball past the advancing Mignolet, and within four minutes of the second half the lead had changed hands.

After that either Spurs took their foot off the gas or we managed to rectify things somewhat.

Adam Johnson fired a low shot wards goal which had Lloris a little worried, while Sessegnon really should have done much better when put through by a brilliant McClean through ball. The Beninese striker rather greedily shooting wide with numerous better options.

The danger was far from one way though and the visitors would have had a third had it not been for Simon Mignolet. Gareth Bale was given the freedom to run near the length of the pitch into our penalty area where he clipped the ball to the back post, to an unmarked Defoe. The in-form striker tapped goalwards and with our Belgian 'keeper already slipping it looked for all the world a certain goal before he managed to claw it away on the line. Superb stuff.

Reinforcements were called for with half an hour to go as Matt Kilgallon was replaced by Fraizer Campbell and the reshuffle was on. Another shuffle was called for too in a non-tactical way as John O'Shea pulled a hamstring and was replaced by Titus Bramble.

We pressed. A bit anyway. Johnson had a freekick cleared for a corner which in keeping with the rest of our corners came to nothing. Everything seemed to break nicely for the visitors to clear. We were just about there, but not really offering enough to penetrate or create an opening at goal.

Simon Mignolet stood up well to an Adebayor breakthrough on goal and stop the scoreline getting much worse. A third however might have been as undeserving as ourselves finding an equaliser. Neither came, and on the day the better side won by the right margin.

There'll be more reaction right HERE in our Match Stream as we continue to break down today's performance.

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