Burton Albion 0-2 Sunderland
Late goals from James Vaughan and George Honeyman gave Chris Coleman his first three points and clean sheet as Sunderland manager against Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium this afternoon.
In a close affair between two of the poorer sides in the league it was Coleman’s substitutes that changed the game, moving the Mackems off the bottom of the league and into 22nd, above today’s opponents.
The opening exchanges of the game were frantic, with neither side able to get a foothold in what was a close encounter between two poor sides.
Sunderland’s primary focus from the off was clearly to attack down our right hand side, with Callum McManaman the main outlet for Chris Coleman’s side in the early stages of the game.
And the first real chance fell to Bryan Oviedo, who found himself inside the Burton Albion 18 yard box - but his shot deflected wide for a corner which came to nothing.
Then Sunderland began to turn the screw - a long distance Lewis Grabban strike was fumbled by Bywater in the Burton goalmouth just a minute later.
Another close effort then followed as a trademark Aiden McGeady long range effort flew just inches wide, before Paddy McNair also saw his shot saved comfortably soon after.
After Sunderland’s ten minute spell of pressure ended it was the home side who came closest to going ahead.
Marvin Sordell’s long range strike had the beating of Robbin Ruiter in the Sunderland goal, but it just went wide and the two sides went in goalless at the break.
Half Time: Burton Albion 0-0 Sunderland
⏰ HALF TIME: Goalless at the break here at the Pirelli Stadium. pic.twitter.com/YW2CJQAvMS— Sunderland AFC ⚪ (@SunderlandAFC) November 25, 2017
Both sides reemerged for the second half more lively than they were in the first, with each team offering up a couple of early chances - though it was Burton who looked the most likely to score first.
Albion ramped up the pressure and had a number of set pieces which came to nothing, but with the home crowd behind them they rallied in their search for the opening goal of the game.
Then it was Sunderland’s turn to pile forward - and a fantastic chance was well saved by the Burton keeper after Lewis Grabban’s strike was diverted away from goal to keep the score level.
Chris Coleman attempted to change things up late in the game, replacing McNair and McGeady with Gibson and Vaughan, in an attempt to score a late winner.
Minutes later our third change came - Asoro for McManaman - and it was Coleman’s substitutions that turned the game on its head.
Darron Gibson’s positivity in midfield led to us getting a foothold in proceedings and with it came our first goal.
From a corner kick, Lee Cattermole flicked the ball across goal where it fell to James Vaughan, and the Sunderland fans in the away end went mental with the game now firmly within Sunderland’s grasp.
And with their tails firmly up, Coleman’s side added a second minutes later through George Honeyman.
The academy graduate - who’d had a quiet game until that point - latched on to the end of a Joel Asoro cross to put the game beyond Burton, handing Sunderland their first win - and clean sheet - of the season.
Full Time: Burton Albion 0-2 Sunderland
Robbin Ruiter, 6/10: Didn’t have much to do.
Bryan Oviedo, 7/10: Quality. He looks a cut above at this level.
John O’Shea, 5/10: Not his best day. Being booked for being too slow about sums him up!
Tyias Browning, 7/10: Solid as a rock.
Adam Matthews, 6/10: Got forward well without really creating a great deal, but defensively very decent.
Paddy McNair, 4/10: Quiet. We were crying out for one of our central midfielders to put their foot on the ball and drive forward but McNair struggled to get involved in the game before he was brought off.
Lee Cattermole, 4/10: What does he do? Barely touched the ball - well, other than when he flicked it on for Vaughan’s goal.
George Honeyman, 6/10: Didn’t have a great game but scored the second.
Callum McManaman, 4/10: His final ball was poor and he struggled to beat his man. Needs to really step up in the absence of Watmore.
Aiden McGeady, 3/10: Pretty dire. Offered us absolutely nothing before being brought off for James Vaughan.
Lewis Grabban, 5/10: Left isolated for the most-part. Unlucky not to score in the second half though.
(SUB) Darron Gibson, 7/10: Really lifted us with his positive passing. An effective change.
(SUB) James Vaughan, 7/10: Like Gibson, he changed the game when he came on and was in the right place at the right time for his goal.
(SUB) Joel Asoro, 7/10: Cracking ball in for Honeyman’s goal.
Man of the Match: Darron Gibson.