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Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One

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Finlay’s Report: How the action unfolded as Sunderland’s 13-game unbeaten run comes to an end

After their thirteen game unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday, RR’s junior reporter Finlay Anderson looks back at all the action, and ponders on how Sunderland will respond in order to keep their promotion bid on track.

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

After both Hull and Peterborough claimed three points, Sunderland have fallen five points behind the top two with only one game in hand, after an own goal from Josh Scowen and a strike from Alex Gilbey gave Charlton a significant three points in their own battle for the play-offs.

Josh Scowen’s 20-yard diving header did only prove to be a consolation, as the Black Cats weren’t able to produce another thrilling comeback.

The Team

Lee Johnson brought both Lynden Gooch and Aiden O’Brien back into the Sunderland attack, after being on the bench on Easter Monday’s significant draw against Peterborough United. Ross Stewart and Jordan Jones were dropped to the bench, as there was still no sign of Chris Maguire, even in the 18-man squad. Meanwhile, there was a switch in the midfield partnership, as Grant Leadbitter was given some breathing time by being dropped to the bench, as Josh Scowen returned to partner Carl Winchester.

Sunderland AFC Training Session Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

First Half Action

The opening 10 minute period should have saw Sunderland head into a two-goal lead, as Charlie Wyke should have increased his goal tally for the season to 23 goals and then 24.

His first chance saw Sanderson float the ball forward to the striker, who flicked it on to McGeady, before a superb through pass found Wyke. His volley was arrowed narrowly wide of the left post, but his second attempt should have put the Black Cats into the lead.

Then, Sunderland’s high line helped Charlie Wyke dispossess the ball away from the feet of Darren Pratley, before trying to lift it over the Charlton goalkeeper, but Ben Amos’ outstretched hand blocked Wyke from giving the home side the lead.

Charlton posed a threat on the set pieces, as Jake Forster-Caskey’s delivery from a free-kick was directed towards his own goal by Luke O’Nien, but luckily for the Sunderland defender, it smashed against the left post.

The chances that the home side had in the opening stages should have given them a comfortable lead - another, this time from Aiden O’Brien, saw the former Milwall man unable to turn the ball past the Charlton goalkeeper from McGeady’s teasing delivery.

Lee Johnson’s side were left to rue their missed opportunities, as the Addicks netted a scrappy goal - one that Lee Burge could have done better.

From Forster-Caskey’s corner, Inniss’ header was powered goal wards, and Lee Burge made a mess of his goalkeeping, and Josh Scowen made a mess of his clearance, as the ball looped into the roof of the Sunderland net.

The Black Cats almost responded instantaneously, but Ben Amos provided to be the barrier to Sunderland’s attacks, as he palmed McFadzean’s left-footed drive past the right post.

Half Time - Sunderland AFC 0-1 Charlton Athletic

Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Second Half Action

Just like Sunderland’s last home match against Oxford, it proved to be another huge half of football for the Black Cats in their push for promotion.

Lee Johnson’s side looked to threaten Ben Amos in the Charlton goal, but McGeady’s volley didn’t test the former Manchester United goalkeeper, as it drifted over the crossbar.

The Addicks threw huge warning signs to the Black Cats defence, as Jaiyesimi crossed the ball into the centre of the six-yard box for Jayden Stockley, but the finish from the striker was diverted onto the right post.

Those warning signs didn’t seem clear enough for the Black Cats as Nigel Adkins’ side took a two-goal lead, with Charlton’s main man, Stockley, instigated the attack. Alex Gilbey was provided with two chances to add his name to the score-sheet, as his first attempt was miss-kicked, but his second attempt was devastating; his strike being fired under Lee Burge and into the bottom corner.

After a second, devastating goal for Charlton, it seemed that they would be the side to score the third, as Gilbey’s shot was parried away by the gloves of Lee Burge.

Then, the pendulum began to swing in the way of the home side. They looked like the more dangerous side and they gained what proved to be little consolation, as both Wyke and Stewart’s efforts were blocked by Ben Amos, before Josh Scowen’s diving header rolled into the back of an empty Charlton net.

Lee Johnson’s team was looking to at least take a point, but their efforts all seemed to close to the Charlton goalkeeper or the defenders, who were easily able to divert them away from any danger.

Wyke’s cross did find a Sunderland man inside of the penalty area, but Ross Stewart’s header was directed into the gloves of the Charlton goalkeeper.

The final five minutes of additional time didn’t seem to pose the Addicks any real issues in their backline, as they were able to see out the final moments, from time-wasting and holding the ball in the corner, as Sunderland’s promotion hopes took a huge blow.

Full Time - Sunderland AFC 1-2 Charlton Athletic

Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Finlay’s Verdict

Right from the off it felt as though it was going to be ‘one of those days’ - one of those days that Sunderland fans have endured many times over recent seasons.

It proved to be another case of ‘typical Sunderland’ - the term that fans had thought that this team had abolished over recent months.

Chance after chance came, but Sunderland were just unable to break the deadlock, with goalkeeper, Ben Amos, most likely having one of his best performances in a Charlton shirt.

The away side proved to be the most clinical in their attack - the warning signs were fired from the get-go at the Stadium of Light.

They consistently launched the ball to their target man, Jayden Stockley, who posed a massive threat to an otherwise, resolute, defensive line.

After a period of defensive resolutely, a blip in the form of the backline was to be expected; we see it in all of the top sides.

Manchester City conceded twice against Leeds on Saturday in the Premier League, Liverpool lost 7-2 to Aston Villa at the start of the season. There should be no complaints about the 90-minute performance of the back-line - the 13-game run of the defence should be analysed the most.

After Josh Scowen’s goal in the second half, some may have thought that fans were going to witness another mirror image of the Crewe match, but it was not going to be.

The Black Cats just simply lacked the creativity and quality in the final third, as their balls and crosses into the danger area were ending in the mid-drift of the Charlton goalkeeper or the head of Pearce.

In truth, it was a first defeat within their last thirteen matches - the impact of this loss will only be told within the next week.

Another League One match is just around the corner, as the Black Cats make the now-tough trip to Wigan, after the Latics’ 4-1 win over a crumbling Doncaster Rovers.

Changes will be made, and formations may be altered, but the goal at the end remains the same - gain ground on Peterborough and Hull, both of whom don’t play.

After Saturday’s result, Sunderland’s automatic promotion dreams aren’t over - they won’t be over until the maths says so - but they have taken a huge blow, and if there is any motto of this Lee Johnson side, it is that they will respond.

Fans have witnessed that after the humiliating defeat to Shrewsbury, and after the 2-2 draw to Crewe, so all is not lost for the Black Cats. They may have to perform to a higher standard against the likes of Blackpool and Hull, but if in the next couple of matches Sunderland return to winning ways, promotion will remain a realistic prospect.


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