Sloppy Sunderland lost for the fourth league game in a row after Nottingham Forest snatched a late victory at the SOL on Tuesday night. Former Sunderland striker Daryl Murphy capitalised on some slack Sunderland defending to grab the only goal of the game and crank up the pressure on Simon Grayson as the lads’ dismal form and performances show little sign of improving.
After the debacle on Saturday against Sheffield United Simon Grayson made four changes to the side and also changed formation as Matthews, Oviedo, Cattermole and McManaman started at the expense of Kone, Galloway, Rodwell and Vaughan. The 3-5-2 was ditched in favour for a 4-5-1 with N’Dong playing highest in the midfield trying to support Grabban. The visitors boasted to former Sunderland players in their starting eleven in Liam Bridcutt and Daryl Murphy.
Sunderland had the first efforts of the game with Grabban sending a shot over the bar and McManaman seeing a shot blocked but as was the case Saturday we weren’t creating clear cut chances. Despite having a lot of the ball we didn’t move it quick enough and the approach play is laboured and lacking tempo. On the rare occasions we did get in behind and get a decent cross into the box there wasn’t a red and white shirt near it.
The visitors offered very little in the opening half and seemed quite content to sit and let Sunderland try and break them down. We were dealt an injury blow before the break when Lewis Grabban went down clutching his hamstring and had to be replaced by James Vaughan who now appears to be our only fit recognised striker.
After the break our best effort came ten minutes after the restart after Honeyman turned cleverly in the box only to see his low left footed effort saved by the keeper’s leg. Sunderland continued to pressure and Oviedo tried a swerving effort from the edge of the box but it was wide of the post.
With twenty minutes to go Grayson made his second change with McManaman replaced by Gooch as the manager tried to freshen up our attacking play. We came close to opening the scoring ten minutes from time when the ball fell kindly on the edge of the box to Jonny Williams who unleashed a powerful effort just wide of the upright.
Typically as the game appeared to be petering out for a stalemate Sunderland hit the self-destruct button and gifted all three points to Forest. Under very little pressure Ty Browning played a blind pass looking for Matthews but his wayward pass was behind the full back allowing Forest in on goal. The ball was crossed for Murphy who rode a challenge from Browning before slotting past Ruiter into the bottom corner.
The goal was greeted by boos and another mass exodus from the fans whilst some of Sunderland’s players heads seemed to go down. There were three additional minutes added on and Sunderland piled on the pressure forcing a succession of free kicks and corners. During this spell Grayson made one of the most ridiculous substitutions in history replacing Lee Cattermole with Billy Jones for the last thirty seconds. Cattermole’s reaction to being subbed showed he was equally as bemused by the change with so little time remaining.
Meanwhile Ruiter was desperate to get forward and join the attack and after waving frantically at Grayson was given to permission to go up. We delivered a couple of decent balls into the box and after a scramble we almost nabbed an equaliser when Matthews stabbed an effort goal wards but it ruffled the side netting.
It’s looking really grim at the minute and there was a “Short Out” banner unfurled in the South Stand towards the end of the game. Only victories and performances are going to be able to improve the mood on Wearside which is getting worse as the season goes on. Its three defeats in four at home which is just not good enough and its looking likely that we are going to be in another relegation battle.
Final Score: Sunderland 0 Nottingham Forest 1
ALS Man of the Match: Billy Jones
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