Sunderland lost control as they were hammered 3-0 by Peterborough United at London Road on Saturday afternoon. The Black Cats conceded three, had one shot on goal and had two men sent off in the second half as Sunderland missed a huge chance to go joint top of the League One table with Ipswich on 14 points.
A double from Marcus Maddison and a neat strike from Josh Knight secured three points for the Posh, which meant that they moved just a point below Sunderland - all of this was before Sunderland had two men dismissed as Luke O’Nien and Charlie Wyke were both shown red cards.
It was Sunderland’s heaviest defeat away from home in 595 days as the Black Cats lost 4-0 against Cardiff City in their season to forget in the Championship on the 13th January 2018. Also, it was the first time Sunderland had two players sent off since the 2nd November 2013, when both Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena were sent off in a one-nil defeat at Hull City.
Jack Ross made two changes from the last league match last Saturday against AFC Wimbledon and eight changes from the side that beat Burnley on Wednesday night.
Both Denver Hume and Chris Maguire weren’t in the squad, but Marc McNulty was back in the starting eleven, giving the Black Cats more of an attacking threat.
After scoring their first goals of the season on Wednesday, Will Grigg, George Dobson and Tom Flanagan were all dropped to the bench with Charlie Wyke, Max Power and Alim Ozturk replacing them respectively.
First Half: Maddison Scores From A Cheap Free-Kick!
The London Road crowd were very upbeat throughout the opening to the match, and the home side had the first opportunity of the game when Mo Eisa’s shot from long range was easily pushed away by Jon McLaughlin.
In parts of the first half, Sunderland created some brilliant build-up play but couldn’t find an end product. McGeady played the ball to Wyke inside of the penalty area, before the Irishman received it back next to the by line and a cross to the back post to McNulty resulted in a Peterborough free-kick as McNulty handled the ball when attempting to control it.
With just under ten minutes of the first half left, Peterborough open the deadlock through a man that is all too familiar for Sunderland, Marcus Maddison, who opened the scoring in the 36th minute. After Leadbitter’s foul on Mo Eisa from around 25 yards out, the Durham-born Posh winger curled the free kick around a three-man wall and it flew into the top left corner and past Jon McLaughlin, who was left rooted to the centre of his goal line.
Sunderland responded well to that opener, and Marc McNulty had a chance to make the scores level when he beat a few Peterborough men and made his way inside the penalty area on the left. His shot was beaten away though by Pym in the Posh goal.
Second Half: Sunderland Lose Control!
Seven minutes after the half time restart, Peterborough doubled their lead and made the challenge for Sunderland to claim all three points even tougher. From a Sunderland free-kick, the Posh broke away on the counter attack through Mo Eisa, who brought the ball away and it found its way to Louis Reed, who was on the centre of the D just outside of the penalty area. He then found Josh Knight and the Leicester City loanee cut the ball into the bottom left corner and past Jon McLaughlin.
Could the Black Cats possibly find a way back into the match now? Well, if they were to sneak back in they would have to use their subs well. With 63 minutes on the clock Jack Ross rolled the dice for the first time when he brought on Will Grigg - who was looking to improve his confidence after netting against Burnley on Wednesday night - in the place of Lynden Gooch.
Peterborough should have had a third when Marcus Maddison whipped in a cross from the left wing and it travelled all the way through to the back post where, somehow, Ivan Toney failed to nod the ball into the back of the net.
It was three-nil not long after through a second for Marcus Maddison. George Boyd’s low pass on the byline inside of the penalty area was blocked by Luke O’Nien and it then lay for Maddison, who arrowed the ball into the bottom right corner.
Sunderland’s day went from bad to worse as Luke O’Nien was sent off in the 71st minute. O’Nien was involved in a tussle with Ivan Toney and the referee, Craig Hicks, showed the Sunderland defender a straight red card, meaning that O’Nien will miss the next three matches against Accrington Stanley, Rotherham United and Bolton Wanderers. After this dismissal, Jack Ross had to use his second change as Tom Flanagan replaced Marc McNulty.
Just as Sunderland fans were thinking that their day couldn’t get any worse, Charlie Wyke was shown a second yellow card after a foul on Dan Butler, near the place where O’Nien was dismissed only six minutes earlier. Wyke will miss only one match and that will be the game against Accrington Stanley at the Wham Stadium.
What a difference a week makes!
Last week I stated that the 3-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon was one of Jack Ross’ best performances as the Sunderland boss and now, this week, I would say that this was undoubtedly one of his worst.
Nothing worked for the Black Cats on Saturday and we were caught out on three occasions and lost our heads towards the end of the match as we had two men sent off. Luke O’Nien - one of our best players last season - will now miss three matches, and Charlie Wyke - who was gaining confidence through good performances - will miss the away trip to Accrington in two weeks time.
There’s still a long way to go and we are still in sixth with eleven points. We now have a two week break as the Burton game was postponed due to international call-ups, and we have to address the left-back situation before the deadline shuts today.
Against Accrington, everyone will expect a reaction from the Black Cats as we need to bounce back straight away otherwise criticism will be directed at Jack Ross, and if we lose again or if we take a point from the Wham, will 11 or 12 points from seven games - 21 points - be accepted? Hopefully, Jack Ross will use this two week break wisely and we can come back and claim a well-needed three points.