Match Report: Sunderland 0-0 Wolves - A Nothing-Nothing Result

Not many positives for Martin O'Neill today.

Urgh, we all hoped for a bounce back from the Bank Holiday weekend blues but it just simply didn't come, contrary to what the folks at Betfair Football Betting thought prior to the game where we were huge favourites. A pretty turgid game, devoid of chances and any real bite ended without any goals, and did little to help either side.

But, we've got to do a match report on it, and we've done that right here, so come along, join us for a recap of the game from start to finish, plus we've chucked in some player ratings and some final thoughts on this afternoon's game...

Martin O'Neill had changes to make as Lee Cattermole sat the game out through injury, and David Vaughan was dropped to the bench as Kieran Richardson and Nicklas Bendtner returned to the starting lineup.

Phil Bardsley passed a fitness test after being a doubt for most of the week, taking his familiar right-back role and take the captaincy in the absence of Cattermole and fellow injury victim John O'Shea.

The opening ten minutes were positive for Sunderland, with prolonged spells of pressure and possession inside the Wolves half. After only three minutes a lovely passing move involving Stephane Sessegnon, Nicklas Bendtner and Sebastian Larsson lead to a run of corners, but at the end of it all Sessegnon just couldn't get a vital touch at the far post to give us the lead.

Larsson also flashed a shot wide moments later when played in cleverly by Bendtner, however the Swede chose to aim for the front post rather than far, and the danger was gone.

Wolves began to eventually wake up, as Anthony Forde tested Simon Mignolet from distance as the Belgian spilled what looked a relatively tame effort. A little more pressure came when the visitors had a ruck of corners, leading to what felt to be a lengthy goalmouth scramble before Jack Colback could hoof the ball to safety.

On that counter attack though, we wasted a glorious chance as James McClean squandered the good work of Larsson and Sessegnon in the buildup, choosing to shoot low and to the front post rather than going across Wayne Hennessey which would have surely been the better option.

After some incredibly scrappy football from both sides, it would appear Sessegnon set about singlehandedly to try and change that, getting in a good curling effort from distance that had Hennessey scrambling, and from the resulting corner, once again creeping in at the back post, might have put us ahead had he been 5'8 instead of 4'8.

After that the scrappy play continued, with neither side able to string more than two or three passes together, and it was a delight to see that there was only one more minute of stoppage time before O'Neill could get the boys back in and give them a bit of a kick up the backside.

The second half started with us at a good tempo, and Sessegnon weaving his way into the area, before Larsson won us a corner. Once again though it was over hit and came to nothing, but at least there was some spark to our play.

Mild pressure continued, up to the hour mark, but clear cut chances were in limited supply for us, and chances of any note even rarer for the visitors.

Nicklas Bendtner skimmed a header wide on 68 minutes, while at the other end we were reminded that Wolves could pose a problem as Sylvan Ebanks-Blake miscontrolled under little pressure inside the area.

James McClean then proceeded to fluff our best chance of the game to that point when after wonderfully weighted ball to the back post, the stooping Irishman could only direct his header into the legs of Hennessey from a yard or so out. Such a good chance, which really should have been buried.

This seemed to kick Wolves into life, and substitute Matt Jarvis send in a great ball to a to that point, quiet Steven Fletcher. Fletcher merely diverted the pacy cross towards goal, and a flying, stunning save from Mignolet spared our blushes. The striker had the ball in the net less than a minute later, but was ruled out for a clear foul on Mignolet.

With the final whistle approaching, and desperation levels becoming higher, there was a collective sigh as Stephane Sessegnon's wayward shot was diverted towards goal by Larsson, but could only find the roof of the net, while James McClean attempted to make amends for his earlier miss with a powerful header straight into the arms of Hennessey a second or two later.

Three minutes of stoppage time was added, but what followed was just three more minutes of ineffective football as opposed to the winner we all hoped for.

Team (Ratings in brackets)

Starting XI: Mignolet (7), Bardsley (6), Turner (6), Kilgallon (6), Richardson (6), Larsson (5), Gardner (6), Colback (6), McClean (6), Sessegnon (7), Bendtner (7)

Subs Used: Campbell (6)

Man Of The Match: Stephane Sessegnon - They say God loves a trier. So do I, and Sessegnon was the only one on our side likely to make something happen for us in what was a pretty awful match on reflection. Mignolet made some good saves to keep us in it, while Nicklas Bendtner brought others into play well. Shame nobody really did anything with it.

Well, not sure what to do now. Where does the finger point? The manager for a lack of changes made? The players for failing to breakdown the worst team in the league? Surely we can't be claiming tiredness again? Well, yes I think we can.

Not physical tiredness like there was at Everton, but a mental tiredness. We just ran out of ideas, and seemed, outside of Sessegnon, devoid of creativity. It merely further compounds the fact that we're in need of a few attacking signings this summer to break down the opposition on days like this.

Today we didn't do well enough at all, something Martin O'Neill agreed with, but a point moves us into 9th position. A position we could only dream about the last time we played against Wolves.

Onwards and upwards, even if today was a sideways performance.

KTF.

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