What we’d give right now for a striker who’d scored fifteen goals by this stage of the season!
Two years ago, this was the case when Ross Stewart netted his thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth of the season against Sheffield Wednesday at a rainy Stadium of Light, a win that demonstrated the team’s potential and highlighted how ruthless we could be as a result of Lee Johnson’s attacking mentality.
Truthfully, Wednesday were woeful and Sunderland took full advantage of their ill discipline and hapless defending throughout.
From the very start, we created many opportunities with Alex Pritchard central to all of our positive play.
It only took us twelve minutes to take the lead when Leon Dajaku played Ross Stewart through to slot past Bailey Peacock-Farrell. At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Stewart was offside but a second viewing showed that it was a beautiful angled run off the last Wednesday defender.
From this point on, it was one-way traffic against an Owls side who came into the game in the midst of a mini defensive crisis, with no central defenders available.
Ten minutes before half time, Sunderland added a quickfire double through Stewart and defender Callum Doyle.
Stewart doubled his tally in the 36th minute, with Jack Hunt’s inability to hold on to possession in his own half proving costly. Hunt lost the ball to Alex Pritchard, and he set up Stewart for a low angled drive that found the bottom left-hand corner.
A third goal arrived five minutes before the interval, with Tom Flanagan nodding the ball back across goal from a corner and Doyle heading home from close range.
It was Doyle’s first goal since joining Sunderland on loan from Manchester City in the summer.
The second half continued in the same vein and in fairness to Peacock-Farrell, he prevented Stewart on several occasions but in the end, the Scottish striker wasn’t going to be stopped.
On the hour mark, Bailey Wright swung a deep cross into the Wednesday box which found Stewart completely unmarked for a tap in, as three defenders were left wondering how the striker was given so much room to himself.
Johnson emptied his bench with the festive schedule in full flow and with fifteen minutes left, one of his substitutes got in on the act.
A rampant Sunderland completed their scoring with fifteen minutes remaining as substitute Kimpioka fired a low finish through Peacock-Farrell’s legs.
It was a nice moment for Kimpioka who was only beginning to break into the Sunderland squad. Furthermore, it was a great day for the club in general with this win putting us top of the league- for a brief period, anyway!
Amazingly, the wheels started to come off in January 2022, when the infamous 6-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers spelled the end for Johnson.
Thursday 30 December 2021
Sky Bet League One
Stadium of Light
Sunderland AFC: Hoffmann, Wright, Flanagan; Doyle, Evans, Neil (Kimpioka 71’), Pritchard (Cirkin 63’), Embleton, Gooch; Dajaku (Alves 80’) Stewart
Goals: Stewart (12’, 36’, 58’), Doyle (40’), Kimpioka (75’)
Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell, Palmer, Dunkley (Brennan 28’) Johnson, Hunt, Bannan; Dele-Bashiru (Corbeanu 59’) Paterson, Wing; Mendez-Laing, Gregory (Adeniran 76’)