A valiant Sunderland managed to claw back from a goal down to secure three vital points against Walsall. This win puts us two points behind Barnsley with a game in hand, meaning that yet again automatic promotion is in our hands. Walsall took a shock lead in the third minute, capitalising from a free kick into the box. Gordon managed to produce a moment of pure quality, as he managed to back-heel volley the ball into the far corner.
The lads put the ball in the net ten minutes later through Will Grigg, but Jack Baldwin has already been penalised for an apparent foul. Sunderland grew into the game and seemed to wake up. Lewis Morgan had two good chances- the first one he dragged wide, and then his ferocious volley was tipped over the bar by the Walsall ‘keeper.
The score was levelled minutes later, as Lee Cattermole managed to hook a Leadbitter corner back across goal, with the ball ricocheting off of the Walsall keeper on its way into the back of the net.
25 minutes into the second half, Sunderland took advantage from out of nowhere. A smart 1-2 from Grigg and substitute Charlie Wyke was expertly dispatched by the Northern Irishman, who slotted into the corner from 20 yards out. The excellent finish is what Stewart Donald wanted after breaking the League 1 transfer record on the striker. The final 20 minutes were seen out professionally, as Walsall were limited to pot-shots and couldn’t break the defence down.
Jon McLaughlin (6/10): Didn’t have much to do and was helpless for the opener.
Luke O’Nien (8/10): Never stopped running. Put in a number of goal-saving blocks and tackles.
Jack Baldwin (6/10): Fairly solid and has probably managed to nail down a starting position.
Tom Flanagan (5/10): Distribution was poor and made a terrible error of misjudgement to give away the free kick for the opener.
Adam Matthews (6/10): Started shaky but gained confidence. Linked up well with Morgan out wide.
Lee Cattermole (6/10): Despite getting the equaliser Lee looked off the pace shielding the back four.
Grant Leadbitter (7/10): Managed to recover from his anonymous Barnsley performance as he showed off his excellent passing range yet again. Best January signing.
Lewis Morgan (7/10): Creative spark throughout. Constantly buzzed around the Walsall defence and caused problems. Almost got a goal with a powerful volley.
Aiden McGeady (7/10): Everything good came through Morgan and McGeady. Managed to beat his man with ease several times.
Max Power (6/10): Linked up midfield and attack well but is clearly better suited to a more defensive role.
Will Grigg (8/10): Chased down every ball, linked up the play well and showed some excellent touches. Got a very well-taken goal to boot that shows he is worth the price tag.
Liner Gooch (5/10): Made the wrong decision several times and picked up a silly booking.
Charlie Wyke (7/10): Brilliant in the air and produced a nice flick to assist Grigg.
Denver Hume (6/10): Some good dribbling but was beaten a few times on the touchline. Has real potential that could be unlocked with more game time.