Sunderland laboured to a 1 – 0 win over promotion rivals Peterborough at a windswept SOL on Saturday afternoon. Grant Leadbitter converted a second half penalty after Denver Hume was fouled in the box to seal the victory for Phil Parkinson’s side. However, the visitors will likely be aggrieved at the result having been the sharper of the two sides as despite the victory Sunderland were sluggish and second best for much of the afternoon.
Despite beating Bristol Rovers last weekend Phil Parkinson made three changes to the side that started at The Memorial Stadium with Wyke, Gooch and Scowen replacing Graham, O’Brien and Power. The visitors got the game underway kicking towards the North Stand and immediately went direct with a long punt forward but Sunderland won a throw.
Peterborough had an early chance to score after a poor piece of goalkeeping from Lee Burge. Dembele tried a shot from 25 yards which was relatively well struck but rather than tip it round the post or hold the shot Burge parried it straight into the path of Clarke-Harris but his effort was wide with the goal gaping. At the other end Sunderland had an effort on goal but Maguire’s shot was blocked on the line before Peterborough scrambled the ball clear.
Josh Scowen then picked up a yellow card for a tackle on Dembele and from the resulting free kick Clarke-Harris forced Burge into another stop with a decent effort. It was the visitors who started the game better and Burge was again forced into action saving from Szmodics who had latched onto a cross from the left by Butler.
Sunderland worked a good opening just before the twenty-minute mark after a diagonal ball from Bailey Wright picked out Hume on the left flank. Hume did brilliantly to beat his man and produce a good cross for O’Nien at the back post, but his header was off target.
Peterborough then exposed Sunderland’s lack of pace breaking at speed with Thompson on the right wing evading a few challenges before feeding the ball to Broom who’s cross was just a fraction ahead of Clarke-Harris in the six-yard box.
Ten minutes before the break Chris Maguire went down with an injury and after receiving treatment he hobbled off and was replaced by Aiden O’Brien. We then forced a corner after Scowen was tackled on the right wing which Scowen took in the absence of Maguire, but the visitors cleared. In first half injury time we forced another corner again after a good cross from Scowen. However, Peterborough again cleared leaving the game goalless at the break.
Neither side made any changes at the break and the lads got the second half underway kicking towards the North Stand. We had an early chance after O’Nien crossed from the right but Scowen totally missed the ball despite being in a good position before Hume drove an effort wide.
We won a free kick in a dangerous position after Gooch was upended on the right-hand corner of the box. Josh Scowen delivered the ball towards O’Brien in the six-yard box, but he glanced his header wide. The lads then forced a corner after a clever pass from Gooch freed Wyke in the box, but his cross was diverted wide by the keeper. The corner was cleared easily but Sunderland did keep up the pressure in the opening stages of the second half with Scowen shooting over after O’Brien’s claims for a penalty were waved away after he tumbled in the box.
With half an hour remaining a sloppy piece of play from Gooch surrendered possession to Peterborough and Taylor who tested Burge with a powerful effort from outside the box which the keeper palmed away. Aiden O’Brien was then shown a yellow card for petulantly kicking the ball away after being penalised for a foul on the halfway line.
Peterborough were unlucky not to take the lead after sixty-five minutes when Reed struck the crossbar with a free kick from 25 yards with Burge beaten. Peterborough were awarded the free kick after Dembele, who was a constant threat all afternoon, turned Willis prompting the defender to haul him down. Reed’s powerful free kick from the left-hand side of the pitch dipped over the wall and crashed off the bar with Burge not able to get near to it.
Phil Parkinson made his second substitution of the game with twenty minutes remaining with Danny Graham replacing Charlie Wyke. We forced a corner five minutes later after Beevers turned behind O’Nien’s cross from the right but Scowen’s floated cross was flicked away for a throw in. Hume took the throw and combined well with Gooch before standing a good ball up at the back post towards O’Brien, but the visitors cleared.
Ten minutes before the break Sunderland were awarded a penalty after Hume was bundled over in the box. Hume had beat one man on the left before surging into the box and being upended by Taylor. Grant Leadbitter took the spot kick and blasted the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the net giving the keeper no chance even though he dove the right way.
Peterborough then forced a corner with a couple of minutes remaining after Wright cut out a cross. Clarke-Harris rose highest to the corner and headed goal wards but Leadbitter did well to turn it behind for another corner. The visitors then forced another couple of corners, but we eventually cleared our lines before the fourth official signalled five minutes additional time.
It was the final minute of the additional time where Peterborough caused us a scare with Reed seeing a shot from the edge of the area deflect just wide for a corner, but the lads held on for the victory.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 Peterborough United 0
ALS Man of the Match: Denver Hume