Sunderland weren’t at their best this afternoon but it didn’t matter as they managed to come from behind to defeat AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow.
Two late goals from Lee Cattermole cancelled out Joe Pigott’s early opener to move Sunderland up to second in the table.
Attendance: 4,848 (727 Sunderland fans)
AFC Wimbledon: Tom King, Toby Sibbick, Ben Purrington, Deji Oshilja (c), Will Nightingale, Mitch Pinnock, Anthony Wordsworth, Liam Trotter, Andy Barcham, James Hanson, Joe Pigott
Subs: Joe McDonnell, Terell Thomas, Anthony Hartigan, Tyler Garratt, Tyler Burey, Rod McDonald, Scott Wagstaff
Sunderland: Jon McLaughlin, Donald Love, Reece James, Glenn Loovens, Jack Baldwin, Lee Cattermole, Max Power, Lynden Gooch, George Honeyman (c), Chris Maguire, Josh Maja
Subs: Robbin Ruiter, Bryan Oviedo, Alim Ozturk, Dylan McGeouch, Luke O’Nien, Elliot Embleton, Bali Mumba
Sunderland’s first chance of the match came when Lynden Gooch burst forward, was fouled and won his side a free-kick. Chris Maguire took it but his low effort simply ricocheted off the Wimbledon wall. Max Power tried his luck from distance not too long after, but his effort drifted just wide of the far post.
On nine minutes, the home side took the lead. Andy Barcham skinned Don Love with relative ease before floating the ball into the path of Joe Pigott, who hit home the delivery with a powerful volley.
The Lads were having their work cut out for them at Kingsmeadow this afternoon. Once this big, physical Wimbledon side took the lead they simply wouldn’t let the Black Cats play and looked the most likely of the two competitors to grab the game’s second goal. Their aforementioned physicality was particularly apparent during their corners - which Sunderland continually struggled to deal with.
The closest we’d come again to scoring in the opening interval was Power’s second attempt from outside the box around the thirty-five minute mark. Once again, however, he dragged his effort just wide of the mark.
Save for Jack Baldwin picking up a yellow card, the first half drew to a fairly uneventful conclusion. Sunderland were behind, and were by all accounts second best.
HT: AFC Wimbledon 1-0 Sunderland (Pigott 9’)
Jack Ross made one change before the second half began with Alim Ozturk replacing Glenn Loovens. Max Power was also substituted shortly after as he made way for Dylan McGeouch.
Wimbledon were still keeping the pressure on but Sunderland were starting to come into the game more. Josh Maja had the Lads’ first chance of the closing interval when he rose to meet the cross from Lynden Gooch - but his header fell straight into the palms of ‘keeper Tom King.
Sunderland had a far more substantial opportunity later on when Gooch sent a great through ball into the path of George Honeyman - but the captain took a touch when he perhaps should’ve shot and his would-be one-on-one with King was intercepted.
But the Black Cats kept the pressure on, and were rewarded with a goal through the unlikely source of a certain Lee Cattermole.
Gooch and Dylan McGeouch linked up well before working the ball to Cattermole, whose initial header and persistence forced the ball over the line. There was a tense moment when the referee and fourth official discussed the possibility of an offside, but thankfully the goal was given.
Wimbledon showed no sign of letting up, though, and were relentless going forward as they looked to regain their advantage.
Bryan Oviedo was immensely lucky to get away from what seemed like a stonewall penalty box handball unscathed, and then Sunderland - collectively - were equally as lucky moments after when Wimbledon captain Deji Oshilja missed an absolute sitter from point-blanc range.
There would be a third goal in this game - but that goal would, almost inexplicably, be the Cattermole’s second!
The former vice-captain put his side ahead after thumping a half-volley from Gooch’s cross far beyond the ‘keeper’s reach. The lads had the lead!
The home side could’ve snatched a last-gasp equaliser with a free-kick on the very edge of the box in the ninety-fourth minute, but the effort was spooned hilariously high of the mark and out of the stadium. Once again, the day was ours.
FT: AFC Wimbledon 1-2 Sunderland (Pigott 9’, Cattermole 66’, 83’)
Jon McLaughlin, 6/10: Fairly comfortable, couldn’t have done much with the Wimbledon goal.
Donald Love, 4/10: Struggled, and was too easily beaten on the wing for their goal.
Reece James, 6/10: Wasn’t really the game to see the best of him from an attacking perspective.
Glenn Loovens, 5/10: Looked a little bit off the pace today. I’m sure he’ll rebound.
Jack Baldwin, 6/10: Wasn’t as effective in a game where we had less of the ball but still did well.
Lee Cattermole, 8/10: What can I say - we needed a hero and he came up with the goods.
Max Power, 6/10: Was the only one trying to get shots in during the first half.
Lynden Gooch, 6/10: Worked very hard once again.
George Honeyman, 6/10: Like Gooch, he grafted hard.
Chris Maguire, 6/10: Great cross for the winner.
Josh Maja, 5/10: Struggled against their powerful defenders but, again, wasn’t really the sort of game where you get the best from him.
(SUB) Bryan Oviedo, 6/10: Added pace in the final third, which helped.
(SUB) Dylan McGeouch, 7/10: We were tonnes better with his composure in the middle of the park.
(SUB) Alim Ozturk, 6/10: Couple of hairy moments again but was effective aerially.
Man of the Match: Lee Barry Cattermole.