Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse Sunderland lost 1-0 to bottom of the league Wigan Athletic on Saturday at the SOL after another horrendous performance. New head coach Lee Johnson took charge for the first time and witnessed from the dugout the mammoth task he has to turn Sunderland’s fortunes around after Kyle Joseph’s first half goal was enough to seal the victory for the strugglers.
Prior to kick off an announcement was made that Lee Johnson has been appointed as Sunderland’s new head coach penning a two- and half-year deal. Johnson took charge of the game and made several changes to the side that started Tuesday’s draw against Burton Albion as well as a change of formation.
We started with a 4-3-2-1 formation with Lee Burge returning in goal behind a back four of Hume, Wright, Flanagan and McLaughlin. The midfield trio was Leadbitter, Power and Scowen with Chris Maguire and Aiden McGeady playing just behind Will Grigg.
The bottom of the league visitors got the game underway kicking towards the North stand, but Sunderland quickly won possession and went on the attack but Maguire’s cross was gathered easily by the keeper. We won a few early corners with McGeady looking lively on the left and McGeady put in a decent corner which Max Power headed wide.
Having had a decent enough start without really threatening the Wigan goal Sunderland found themselves a goal behind after 15 minutes Kyle Joseph opened the scoring. It was a good finish from Joseph who drove a left footed shot from the centre of the box past Lee Burge, but it was a disappointing goal from Sunderland’s point of view with Bailey Wright beaten far too easily.
We had our first real effort on goal after 20 minutes through the returning Aiden McGeady who was making his first Sunderland start in over a year. McGeady was found in the left-hand side of the box after a good ball forward by Max Power but the Irishman flashed a powerful shot into the side netting.
On the half hour we were forced into an early change after Denver Hume pulled up clutching his hamstring with Callum McFadzean replacing him. Josh Scowen forced a corner after he had a shot from the edge of the box which the keeper turned around the post. Scowen took the corner from the right and didn’t beat the first man before eventually winning a free kick in a dangerous position on the right. Chris Maguire whipped the set piece into the box, but Wigan eventually cleared it.
Five minutes before the break Sunderland had a chance to level after good work from Chris Maguire down the right wing. Maguire beat his man and drove into the box before cutting back onto his right foot but having done well in the build up he blazed his shot over the bar.
Just before the break Wigan were incensed as they felt they should have been awarded a penalty after Naismith tumbled in the box under a challenge from Flanagan. Aiden McGeady had cheaply conceded possession with a sloppy pass allowing Joseph to play the ball in behind for Naismith who got his body between the ball and Flanagan before going to the ground looking for the penalty.
There were no changes for either side at half time and the lads got the second half underway kicking towards the North Stand. Wigan forced an early corner after Bailey Wright was outmuscled by Naismith on the right wing. It was whipped in towards the front post and Perry got in front of his man, but his shot was off target.
It was a frustrating to watch as yet again Sunderland seemed to lack urgency and any sort of idea of how to break down Wigan who were happy to sit on their lead. The visitors enjoyed more possession than they had in the first half and looked comfortable and when Sunderland did have a good chance to hit them on the counter Chris Maguire wasted it with a poor pass to Josh Scowen. All too often Sunderland’s build up play was laboured, ponderous and pedestrian which made it easy for Wigan to defend against.
With half an hour remaining Sunderland forced a corner after Aiden McGeady’s long range shot was deflected wide but the corner was wasted with a poor delivery by Josh Scowen. Scowen did force the keeper into action soon after when he got on the end of Power’s cross from the right, but his header was tipped over the bar by a good save from the keeper.
Aiden McGeady showed his quality and forced the keeper into a save with a powerful left footed shot from just outside the box. McGeady created space for himself with a step over before firing the ball towards the top corner which the keeper tipped around the post. Lee Johnson then made a double substitution with Elliot Embleton and Danny Graham replacing Max Power and will Grigg.
McGeady then took the corner which Tom Flanagan rose highest too, but his header was deflected wide for another corner. McGeady again delivered a decent ball and after a bit of a scramble the ball fell to Connor McLaughlin who dragged a shot wide for a goal kick.
With 15 minutes left to play Johnson made his fourth change of the afternoon with Jack Diamond replacing Aiden McGeady. We then forced another corner after a good cross from the left by Callum McFadzean, but it was taken short before Diamond swung a high ball into the box which the keeper gathered easily. We forced another corner after a decent run by Diamond on the right which was cleared as far as Leadbitter on the edge of the box who volleyed the ball goal wards into the ground which the keeper saved.
There was five minutes injury time signalled by the fourth official and in the first of them Maguire was booked for dissent after Leadbitter was penalised for a foul. Sunderland never looked like scoring as Johnson’s first game ended in defeat.
Final Score: Sunderland 0 Wigan Athletic 1
ALS Man of the Match: Aiden McGeady