Sunderland 2-0 Ipswich Town: Blues made to pay as chances go begging in Sunderland loss
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A late Luke O’Nien header and Aiden McGeady's penalty proved the difference as Sunderland snatched victory over Ipswich Town this afternoon.
Both goals came inside the closing stages, with O'Nien heading home on 85 minutes before McGeady slammed home from the spot after Toto Nsiala was harshly adjudged to have handled a Ross Stewart shot in stoppage time.
It was a cruel loss, with the two Sunderland goals their only shots on target.
Town were arguably the better side in this game and had the chances to win it, with the best of them falling to Bersant Celina as the Kosovo international had three opportunities to fire home in the first half, but gave home keeper Thorben Hoffmann a chance to save all three.
The Blues controlled this game well, playing with an air of calm which allowed frustrations to grow in the home stands, while continuing to pose a threat of their own.
Sadly, though, their dominance of possession and solid approach to this contest was not rewarded and the Black Cats found a way to win in the final minutes.
Defeat leaves them 10th, seven points off the play-off places heading into Tuesday night’s home clash with Rotherham.
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Cook made one change to the side which last took the field in League One, against Oxford a week ago, with Sone Aluko coming into the side on the right wing in place of Wes Burns. The Welshman is likely to miss the next couple of games with a knock.
Town were backed by 2,000 supporters, seated up in the gods behind the goal the Blues attacked in the first period, with Cook’s side’s first foray forward leading to two corners which the hosts managed to deal with.
Elliott Embleton fired the first shot in anger, curling over from range, before Macauley Bonne had a shot blocked on the edge of the six yard box, after Sone Aluko had freed Bersant Celina to cross from the edge of the penalty area.
Aluko started the game well, with Ipswich getting him on the ball in dangerous areas, with the Blues playing with a calmness about them as they kept the ball well and allowed nerves to grow inside the stadium.
They had a golden opportunity to test Thorben Hoffmann for the first real time on the half hour, when a good Kyle Edwards run pulled the Sunderland defence out of position, before a lay-off pass found Celina in space to shoot. Sadly, though, he couldn’t catch hold of his effort from inside the box and Hoffmann fell on the ball easily. He will have expected better.
Toto Nsiala and Janoi Donacien, who was making his 50th Ipswich appearance, both made good blocks to snuff out dangerous Sunderland moments, before skipper Sam Morsy had a sweeping shot from the edge of the box deflected behind for a corner, without testing the goalkeeper.
Hoffmann was tested just before the break, as Celina met a Donacien cut-back and forced a decent save with initial effort before seeing his follow-up turned away as well, with Bonne then hooking a third towards goal in quick succession, with the Black Cats’ keeper clutching that with ease.
The flurry of Town chances followed Sunderland penalty appeals, after Nsiala and Ross Stewart had tangled in the box, with the referee waving those claims away before home boss Lee Johnson was booked for his continued protests.
The two sides went in level at the break, wit Town much the better of the two sides after it, without being able to test Hoffmann any further.
Cook’s first move saw the Town boss bring Conor Chaplin and Scott Fraser into the game in place of Celina and Edwards, with the latter of those incoming players supplying a cross which presented Aluko with a decent opportunity to shoot from 10 yards out. He fired over, though.
Pigott was the last man off the bench, replacing Bonne, but the dagger soon arrived as O’Nien headed home to give his side the three points before McGeady converted from the spot to complete the job for the fortunate hosts.
Sunderland: Hoffmann, Winchester, Wright, Doyle, O'Nien; Evans (Pritchard, 76), Neil, Embleton (McGeady, 62), Broadhead, Gooch, Stewart
Subs: Patterson, Flanagan, Alves, Dajaku, O'Brien
Ipswich Town: Walton; Donacien, Nsiala, Edmundson, Clements; Morsy, Evans; Aluko, Celina (Fraser, 69), Edwards (Chaplin, 69); Bonne (Pigott, 80)
Subs: Hladky, Burgess, Vincent-Young, El Mizouni