Sunderland’s long win-less run at the Stadium of Light continued today after they were comfortably beaten 3-1 by visitors Reading.
Sunderland started the first half with a clear-cut game plan and system, but ended it with the wheels coming loose when Callum McManaman picked up his second yellow just before the break. From then onward, it went just how you’d expect it to.
Here are the details of exactly how it went.
Sunderland: Ruiter, Matthews, Oviedo, O’Shea (c), Browning, Cattermole, Gibson, McManaman, Honeyman, McGeady, Grabban
Subs: Steele, Love, Asoro, Galloway, Gooch, Maja, Wilson
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Bacuna, McShane, Moore, van den Berg, Kelly, Edwards, Aluko, Barrow, Kermorgant
Subs: Jaakkola, Beerens, Ilori, Clement, Bodvarsson, Blackett, Popa
Chris Coleman’s Sunderland would’ve named a side unchanged from the one that ran out two-nil winners at Burton last week, but Paddy McNair pulled up in training and had to be replaced by Darron Gibson - with Brendan Galloway subsequently taking Gibson’s place on the bench. James Vaughan sat this one out following his suspension.
Returning ‘keeper Vito Mannone was met with a warm reception on his first appearance back at the Stadium of Light since swapping stripes, and was called into action almost immediately as Callum McManaman won a free-kick which Bryan Oviedo swung in - but the Italian ‘stopper gathered the effort with ease.
George Honeyman would have Sunderland’s next sight on goal only shortly after. A quick free-kick launched up the field by Lee Cattermole found the academy graduate, who raced toward goal before firing off a shot just wide of the far post.
Sunderland enjoyed a greater share of the possession for the opening fifteen and there was little more to talk about other than McManaman picking up a yellow card. Reading’s first chance of the game came with a slick counter-attacking move that ended at the feet of Dave Edwards - but his effort from six yards out was skied clear over the crossbar.
The home side would have another promising chance as Aiden McGeady marauded forward and found McManaman out wide, who scooped a cross into the path of Adam Matthews - but the Welsh full-back was jostled off the ball before he could make anything of it.
Mere moments before the conclusion of the first half, Sunderland would have the ball in the Reading net - but it wouldn’t be cause for celebration. Callum McManaman guided the ball into the net but did so with his hand, and thus things went from bad to worse as he then picked up his second bookable offense and reduced Sunderland to ten men with another 45 minutes still to play.
HT: Sunderland 0 - 0 Reading
HALF-TIME: Sunderland 0-0 Reading. A dramatic end to the half here at the Stadium of Light, the Royals will be playing against 10 men in the second half. pic.twitter.com/9gUdJ9SWO8— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) December 2, 2017
Sunderland resigned themselves to sitting back and soaking up pressure with a one man disadvantage - and it wouldn’t be too long before we started to read from an all-to-familiar script.
The visitors took the lead not long into the second half after Sone Aluko’s goalbound effort was deflected into the path of an unmarked Dave Edwards, who converted from point-blank range. Things would then go from bad to worse as Oviedo, who was enjoying a solid performance hitherto, sustained an injury and was forced to come off.
There were signs of a resurgence shortly after as Honeyman weaved his way through the right flank and fired at goal from a tight angle, but Mannone was able to do enough to turn it behind.
Reading would then go on to double their advantage as a cross from Liam Kelly picked out Modou Barrow who Adam Matthews failed to contain - the Gambian international volleying home the Royal’s second.
And we’d only have to wait three minutes for the third goal. Barrow once again finding the net as he finished off an admittedly well-worked Reading move to put the game out of sight.
Sunderland would get a name on the scoresheet, however. Substitute Joel Asoro was brought down by Leandro Bacuna as he raced toward his rebounded shot inside the box, subsequently awarding the lads a penalty which Lewis Grabban slotted home.
Ultimately, however, it was too little too late, and ten-man Sunderland would once again walk out of a dejected Stadium of Light having extended a calamitous winless run at home.
Coleman still has a mountain to climb of Kilimonjaro’s proportions, there’s no doubt about that.
FT: Sunderland (Grabban 76’ pen) 1 - 3 Reading (Edwards 53’, Barrow 68’, 71’)
Robbin Ruiter - 4/10: Could’ve done better for Reading’s second, not much he could’ve done otherwise.
Adam Matthews - 5/10: Lively throughout, but was arguably also at fault for the visitors’ second.
Bryan Oviedo - 7/10: An injury cut short another solid performance from our most underrated player.
John O’Shea - 4/10: Below average.
Tyias Browning - 5/10: Decent enough I suppose, can’t help but admire his composure, given how young he is.
Lee Cattermole - 2/10: Horrendous. Offers absolutely nothing.
Darron Gibson - 3/10: Was doing alright until he just seemed to give up midway through the second half.
Callum McManaman - 1/10: Cost us the game with a stupid handball.
George Honeyman - 7/10: One of the few players who comes away from today with some credit. Looked industrious playing a number 10 role and clearly stuck to his aspect of the game plan throughout.
Aiden McGeady - 3/10: Much like Cattermole, he offers nowt.
Lewis Grabban - 5/10: Scored a consolation goal from the spot. That’s about it.
Brendan Galloway (sub) - 5/10: Didn’t do an awful lot, but I suppose he didn’t look completely stranded like he did earlier this season.
Joel Asoro (sub) - 6/10: Game was dead by the time he came on but he did manage to win a penalty, so fair play to him for at least making an impact.
Lynden Gooch (sub) - 5/10: Not much time or incentive to make an impression.
Man of the Match: Bryan Oviedo.