Sunderland came from behind again, to beat AFC Wimbledon 2-1 as Lee Cattermole was the hero with two goals.
Three times have Sunderland come from behind to win this season. That sums up this new team, Jack Ross has instilled a new mentality, and long may it continue. The Black Cats now sit second behind Peterborough and extend their unbeaten record.
The Dons were made of tough stuff and, it was far from an easy game. However, Sunderland just managed to edge out their opponents with what’s worth repeating a Lee Cattermole brace.
Sunderland made a second trip down south in the space of three days with a first-ever trip to Kingsmeadow to play AFC Wimbledon.
The last time Sunderland battled against the old Wimbledon was back in 2004 when but it’s fair to say a lot has changed since then for both sides.
Skip forward fourteen years, and Sunderland named an unchanged line-up after a brilliant 4-1 win against the Gills on Wednesday. The only change is to the bench where Bryan Oviedo was back as he replaced Denver Hume.
Sunderland lined-up like this: McLaughlin, Love, Baldwin, Loovens, James, Cattermole, Power, Gooch, Honeyman, Maguire, Maja
AFC Wimbledon took the lead with their first shot of the game. It was a fine ball in by Andy Barcham which was dispatched brilliantly on the volley by Joe Pigott, which left Jon McLaughlin with no chance.
It was a poor start from the away side who hadn’t started the game at all, the goal had given the Dons an extra confidence boost whereas, Sunderland looked miles off the pace.
Wimbledon had a clear game plan and it was unsettling Sunderland. They are a team with a lot of height and physicality, they often targeted the wings the lads were struggling to deal with crosses.
The Dons should have been two up and what would have been a second for Pigott. The striker turned brilliantly but only saw his goal-bound shot blocked.
Sunderland finally began to show signs of life with ten minutes of the half to play. After some decent build-up play, the ball fell to Max Power who unleashed a powerful effort from 20 yards out. It looked as if it would find the bottom corner, but it whistled past the post.
The Black Cats ended the half 1-0 down and it was easily the poorest half this season. Jack Ross’ side looked rattled and were trying to beat Wimbledon at their own game and it wasn’t working. No doubt it was Ross’ biggest team talk as manager this season.
In a bid to combat Wimbledon’s style of play, Ross brought on Alim Ozturk on for Glen Loovens. Ross had clearly not seen enough from the former Sheffield Wednesday centre-half.
Wimbledon should have been two up, McLaughlin’s punch away fell to Barcham whose header was cleared off the line from Donald Love.
Sunderland’s best chance came moments later, after Gooch slipped a perfect through ball for Honeyman and sent him through on goal. Out of nowhere, Toby Sibbick put in a perfect sliding tackle to deny Honeyman from getting a shot away.
Jack Ross’ side were enjoying a lot more of the ball in the second half but was seriously lacking was that final ball. The inclusion of Dylan McGeouch had appeared to calm down the midfield, but the lads were just missing a bit of quality in the final third.
With just under half an hour to play, Lee Cattermole dragged Sunderland after the game. From a short corner, Gooch chipped it into the near post and after a bit of a scramble, Lee Cattermole of all people fired home. It might not have been pretty, but it was exactly the team needed.
Cattermole thoroughly deserved the goal his effort and desire was outstanding as he had carried the side at times during the game. After all the talk of him wanting to leave during the transfer window, you’d never be able to tell with his displays since coming back into the starting eleven.
Wimbledon were furious they were not awarded a penalty as Oviedo looked to have cleared the ball off the line with his arm. From the resulting corner, Adedeji Oshilaja’s effort from six yards out went flying over the bar. Whenever they got the ball in the box they were dominating the Sunderland defenders.
From yet another cross the Dons had a chance, Liam Trotter’s volley from the edge of the area was struck well but it flashed over the bar and into safety. On another day that could have easily been 2-1 and on a few occasions had the away side ridden their luck.
From 1-0 Sunderland had turned this game on its head, and guess who? Lee Barry Cattermole! Yes, you read that right. The midfielder latched onto a fantastic Chris Maguire cross at the far post and fired it home.
You can say what you like about this Sunderland team, but boy do they have character and a never say die attitude. Wimbledon will have no doubt been aggrieved that they were losing the game and understandably so. However, Sunderland kept plugging away and who could imagine it would be Cattermole applying the final bit of quality.
Final Score: 2-1
ALS Man of the Match: Lee Cattermole