Sunderland had to settle for a 1-1 draw away at Hull, with James Vaughan netting his first goal at SAFC following a barren spell. The home side’s equaliser came courtesy of David Meyler, with a massive deflection off Lamine Kone helping the ball past goalkeeper Ruiter. Vaughan was so thrilled with his first goal for Sunderland that his boisterous celebration earned him a booking — we do say that all we ask for is passion!
Going into today’s game, Sunderland’s start to the season could officially be classed as disappointing. While a couple of defeats wasn’t enough to discourage the SAFC support, which has seen its fair share of failure, two home collapses inside a week proved only too conclusive for some.
The ease in which Sheffield Utd disposed of Sunderland away from home made the Wearsiders look feeble, while Forest’s pedestrian performance was somehow enough to trick Sunderland into beating themselves.
It’s clear this team is not as strong as it first appeared. Our lack of goals confirms what many fans feared when the transfer window closed — the failure to bring in a confident and accomplished striker is costing us vital points in a league we’re quickly tumbling down.
Early-campaign optimism and positive energy injected by manager Simon Grayson has now been drained, and as Sunderland’s losing streak stretched on, fan patience in the chairman heated closer to boiling point. A ‘Short Out’ banner appeared in the South Stand on Tuesday against ‘Forest, diving opinions among supporters.
While some fans were happy to see action — any action — being taken to air discontent at the club and the owner, other fans were left questioning the merits of such a gesture. At a club where the owner is already actively trying to sell, is there any point in demanding him to try harder?
Nevertheless, a trip down to the KC Stadium to face Hull City Tigers presented an opportunity for Sunderland to return to winning ways. Hull were the only team Sunderland got the better of on both occasions last season — two of just six Premier League victories — meaning we would try to take advantage of any hoodoo we may have over a fellow floundering football club.
Seb Larsson featured for Hull today, our first meeting with the Swede after his six-season stint on Wearside. In typical fashion, his first contribution to the game was a foul on Jonny Williams to disrupt a counter attack, followed by some stern finger pointing at the referee.
Sunderland’s all-important goal came courtesy of James Vaughan, the striker finally breaking his duck at SAFC. Vaughan found space to nod in a Callum McManaman cross in the 17th minute, and was so thrilled by his effort that his overzealous celebration saw him yellow carded shortly after.
While Hull enjoyed longer spells of possession, particularly during the latter stages of the first half, their ball movement was rarely positive or with any sort of ingenuity. The home fans began to lose patience, while SAFC were happy for Hull to wear themselves out with the ball at their feet.
Robbin Ruiter was tested 7 minutes into the second half, pulling off an excellent stop to prevent Hull from replying with a goal virtually identical to ours. While many fans were happy to see Ruiter introduced for the struggling Jason Steele, the Dutchman was duly criticised for conceding a goal against Sheffield Utd at his near post, giving Grayson further selection headaches. Saves like that will solidify Ruiter’s place in the team.
Callum McManaman came close to making it 2-0, following up his sophisticated assist with a chance of his own. Allan McGregor was forced into a save, while James Vaughan couldn’t covert the rebound. 20 minutes into the second half would have been the ideal time to double the lead.
Jonny Williams resembles a dishevelled Sean Thornton, but he does have quick feet. He was looking particularly lively in the wide areas up against Hull’s Tomori, a clumsy lump. Unfortunately his final ball let him down whereas, by contrast, McManaman’s was his strongest asset. Between the two of them we have a canny Championship player.
Sunderland fudged a great chance after nicking the ball from the feet of David Meyler. Honeyman made the tackle before mistiming the through ball to James Vaughan, resulting in the pass being smothered before Vaughan could get a shot off.
Jack Rodwell came on for Jonny Williams and was booked 13 seconds later, summarising his career at Sunderland. An equally defensive sub came minutes later, with McManaman being replaced by Billy Jones. It seems Grayson was content to see the game out and protect the 1-0 lead, with Williams and McManaman our most-creative players throughout the match. This decision would prove to be naïve.
David Meyler equalised for Hull, with a significant deflection off Lamine Kone helping the ball past Ruiter at the near post. Meyler’s shot was embarrassingly tame and on first viewing looked a terrible one for Ruiter to concede, but the deflection certainly changed the path of the ball.
Lynden Gooch was the last substitution in place of James Vaughan, but the stocky American could do little to influence a Sunderland side that had already had the wind knocked out of their sails. The game drew to a close with both sides seemingly grateful for a point.
Simon Grayson’s substitutions will be criticised in the wake of this match, with huge gaps appearing in the midfield following the withdrawal of our danger men. Granted, we do not have many players who could make an impact off the bench, but it was clear from the way we had been playing that without the wide outlets we would experience nothing but pressure for the rest of the match. The pressure eventually boiled over and we conceded.
Two points thrown away, but certainly better than another defeat.
Final Score: Hull 1-1 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Callum McManaman
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