A Poor Start

Jack Ross’ reign as Sunderland manager came to a close after a disappointing 2-0 defeat at Lincoln. After lots of speculation, Phil Parkinson was eventually appointed as his successor; a decision with very mixed reactions from the fans. However, he definitely has the experience needed to be successful this season and if the supporters stick by him there’s no reason to say that automatic promotion is out of reach. Parkinson would need to get off to a good start though and with tricky trip to Adam’s Park first on the list, it was never going to be easy.

Wycombe Wanderers have had a superb start to the 19/20 season, which even led to Gareth Ainsworth being heavily linked with replacing Jack Ross as Sunderland manager. For better or for worse, this didn’t happen so it was now up to Phil Parkinson to try and prove why Stewart Donald made the right decision with appointing him.

It’s always difficult for a new manager to select their first line up, especially when they haven’t had long enough to get to grips with the squad. However, this didn’t stop Phil Parkinson from making multiple changes to the line up and trying to put his stamp on things. The first big change saw Lee Burge replace Jon McLaughlin between the sticks, which was reasonable considering how well Burge has performed in the cup so far this season. Denver Hume replaced Laurens De Bock in defence, with Grant Leadbitter coming into midfield for Dylan McGeouch. Finally, Duncan Watmore earned himself a start, having scored in the 3-2 victory over Grimsby at The Stadium of Light not so long ago. This meant that Charlie Wyke continued in attack on his own, with Will Grigg and Marc McNulty both good options from the bench if necessary.

For the hosts Adebayo Akinfenwa led the line, a player that would always poise a huge threat mainly due to his incredible physique and strength rather than his skill. Rolando Aarons started on the Left-Wing, a player with huge potential who joined on a loan deal from Newcastle. David Wheeler, who spent last season on loan at Portsmouth, started on the right-wing. Evidently, it was a very capable front three and with an equally experienced midfield trio just behind, it was clear to see why The Chairboys’ were so high in the table heading into the game. However, there was no reason why Sunderland couldn’t equal or even better them on the pitch.

The game commenced and Sunderland made a positive start to proceedings by producing the first opportunity, but Aiden McGeady’s long-range attempt dipped away from goal. Lee Burge showed his ability by clawing a very well struck free-kick away from the top corner to keep the score level at 0-0. Unfortunately, he couldn’t do anything when Wycombe came knocking again. Sunderland failed to clear another set piece, which allowed Akinfenwa to head the ball into the path of Darius Charles, who thumped the ball into the back of the net, 1-0 Wycombe. Gareth Ainsworth’s men went in one goal up at the break and Phil Parkinson would have to work some magic in the second half to even snatch a point from this game.

The second forty-five got underway and the travelling supporters really needed something to cheer about after a pretty dire display from those in red and white in the first half. Charlie Wyke’s game came to an abrupt end as he was forced off with an ankle injury at the break. This meant that Will Grigg was introduced to the field, a player who really needs to hit the ground running after a pretty poor career on Wearside so far. The Northern-Irishman did impress, by holding up possession and allowing the likes of Watmore and McGeady to get into some more threatening positions in front of goal. However, Sunderland really failed to muster any clear-cut chances, which resulted in the introduction of Chris Maguire and Marc McNulty as Parkinson’s men looked for a response. Wycombe should have doubled their lead with just nine minutes remaining but Akinfenwa headed wide from the back post, meaning it would be a very competitive end to the game with the points still up for grabs. It looked as if Sunderland were going to nick a goal right at the end, but Aiden McGeady’s header was diverted onto the woodwork to save the points for Gareth Ainsworth’s side. This leaves The Chairboys’ in an impressive 2nd place and in full confidence to continue their terrific start to the campaign.

However, from our perspective nothing really appeared to change even with the new managerial appointment. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and it’s going to be interesting to see if Phil Parkinson can put his spin on things in the coming games. Sunderland entertain the struggling Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday night, a huge chance for Phil Parkinson to get an early win and give the supporters some much needed faith. This defeat leaves us 10th in the table, fingers crossed that will change sooner rather than later!