Sunderland failed to capitalise on a chance to further close the gap down at the bottom, losing 3-1 to Sheffield Wednesday.
Three relatively simple goals were afforded to the away side on a day where Sunderland really couldn’t afford to lose, and with the gap remaining at five points with just six games left to play it’s looking difficult to see how Sunderland manage to turn this around.
Strikes from Lucas Joao, Tom Lees and Atdhe Nuhiu cancelled out George Honeyman’s header as Sunderland’s awful defensive showing has them facing the prospect of back to back relegations.
Only goal difference is keeping us off the bottom of the table.
Sunderland: Lee Camp, Donald Love, Marc Wilson, John O’Shea (c), Brian Oviedo, Paddy McNair, Lee Cattermole, George Honeyman, Aiden McGeady, Lynden Gooch, Ashley Fletcher
Subs: Jason Steele, Ovie Ejaria, Adam Matthews, Kazenga Lua Lua, Josh Maja, Callum McManaman, Joel Asoro
Sheffield Wednesday: Joe Wildsmith, Jack Hunt, Federico Venancio, Tom Lees, Morgan Fox, George Boyd, Joey Pelupessy, Barry Bannan, Adam Reach, Atdhe Nuhiu, Lucas Joao
Subs: Cameron Dawson, David Jones, Jordan Rhodes, Jacob Butterfield, Marco Matias, Jordan Thornley, Fernando Forestieri
Buoyed by their heroics at Pride Park, Sunderland made a positive start and nearly opened the scoring in the first 15 minutes. Donald Love let fly from 25 yards and barely missed the top corner with his powerful strike, which flew just over the bar.
Sunderland continued to dominate possession, but created little in the first half-hour in a cagey, dull contest.
Sunderland’s first major chance fell to Ashley Fletcher, who was unable to nod home Aiden McGeady’s lofted cross, nodding the ball wide from close range.
Sunderland dominated the closing minutes of the first half and should have opened the scoring. Fletcher managed to head high and wide from a corner when he was just three yards out.
The half ended goalless in a clash low on quality and goal-mouth action.
HT: Sunderland 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday
The second period followed the same pattern as the first with Sunderland enjoying plenty of possession in the Wednesday half, but lacking the quality to create any meaningful chances.
On the hour Sunderland were punished for their lack of killer instinct. A speculative cross was nodded down by Nuhuiu and then smashed beyond Lee Camp on the half-volley by Joao. His strike went under Camp who wasn’t sharp enough to save the ball.
Sunderland equalised strait from kick-off. Lynden Gooch floated in a superb cross, which George Honeyman nodded home from close range.
Sunderland weren’t level for long conceding a soft goal, just seven minutes later. Tom Lees volleyed in unmarked from an in-swinging free kick, from close range. Sunderland showed an embarrassing lack of resistance having done so well to get back level earlier.
Lee Cattermole nearly equalised with just under 20 minutes remaining hitting the inside of the post with a fantastic effort.
In the same move Gooch saw a penalty appeal waved away - the American collided with Barry Bannan, but the referee waved play on, deciding that there wasn’t enough to justify giving the foul.
Sunderland’s defence let them down again on 75 minutes, giving away another simple goal. Nuhiu saw a close range effort saved by Camp, who could only deflect the ball back into his path, the striker buried the rebound all but sealing Sunderland’s fate.
The home side created little, with Wednesday third goal proving to be the final blow. Sunderland dominated large portions of the game but were let down by their miserable defending.
FT: Sunderland 1-3 Sheffield Wednesday
Lee Camp: 2/10, Another hopeless display from a Sunderland goalkeeper.
Donald Love: 5/10 Poor quality throughout, surely he’ll be dropped back down to the bench.
Marc Wilson: 5/10 Unconvincing in his return to the first team.
John O’Shea: 5/10 Our supposed leader oversaw another weak defensive display.
Brian Oviedo: 4/10 Was hooked for playing poorly. Struggled with Joao throughout.
Lee Cattermole: 7/10 Believe it or not Lee Cattermole actually played a good game of football in the year 2018 - remarkable.
Paddy McNair: 6/10 Failed to match his excellent performance at Pride Park.
Lynden Gooch: 7/10 Maddeningly inconsistent but created the goal and worked very hard.
George Honeyman: 7/10 Took his goal well, but failed to have a major impact in the game outside of his header.
Aiden McGeady: 7/10 Sunderland’s most threatening player in attack.
Ashley Fletcher: 6/10 Had some nice touches and good link up in the first half, but didn’t do enough to impose himself on the game.
(SUB) Adam Matthews, 6/10: Had little impact after being brought on, outside of one decent run.
(SUB) Joel Asoro, 7/10: Had an instant impact on the game, added dynamism to our attack that had been missing.
(SUB) Ovie Ejaria, 5/10: Didn’t have an impact in limited minutes.
Man of the Match: Lee Cattermole