Wigan v SAFC

Great win at the DW

US blogger Jonathan Sager on following from afar.

A day after being fitted with a light red/dark pink walking cast, Sunderland were set to travel to battle the Lactics at Wigan. 

I was hoping for a fight back from the team following the disappointing exit from the cup.  There were the usual rumours since then that a new transfer would be brought in, but nothing had changed by the time the game started.

Ahmed Elmohamady had been recalled from Hull for reinforcements, so I was curious to see if he would make an appearance in the contest.  Elmo has been playing really well at Hull, so hopefully he would come in and make a contribution.

My injured foot required that I be fitted with the cast as a last gasp effort before I would have to undergo a procedure to attempt to reduce the growing pain.

The game was not going to be broadcast live, but I was going to be able to watch it on tape delay.

In the minutes building up to the match, I checked the Sunerland app on my iPhone and saw that the new boy Alfred N'Diaye would be making his first start.

Sunderland looked a bit timid in the first couple of minutes at the back, and unfortunately the Lads were made to pay when David Vaughn misjudged a kick and sent it into his own net.

This wasn't the response from the Bolton game I was hoping for.

But then it was a game of handballs.  A Seb Larsson free kick was handled in the box by a Wigan wall member who argued intently but referee Taylor pointed immediately at the spot. 

Cooly as you like Craig Gardner beat Ali Al Habsi.  1-1.  Bang.  There was the fight back. 

N'Daiye made a great cross to Fletcher in the 20th minute and off a header Al Habsi made a great save however Fletcher volleyed the rebound with his left foot as he was falling away to bury one of the most athletic goals i've seen in a while.

2-1 and here we go.

20 minutes or so later, Fletcher made it 3-1.  A Johnson and Fletcher one-two in the box proved to be too much for Wigan to handle and our super Scot made them pay.

As half-time came, I lost count of the number of handballs there were in the first half, was it four, was it five?  I've never seen so many in one half. 

But at least we were good value for the lead.  We deserved to be ahead.  We fought a rough start and turned it all around.

However the second half was a bit more even, if not tilted toward Wigan a bit more.

Roberto Martinez sent his men forward in waves.  Pushing the game at the Lads.

50th minute our Belgian keeper made a great save, an almost impossible stop on Maloney. 

Larson nearly made it 4-1 a minute later when his shot just missed the lower corner of goal.

Maloney was impressive in the second half.  Setting up teammates and making runs down the sidelines. 

Sess made a great run in the 70th but couldn't get the shot off.  He almost put it completely in the books. 

Again Maloney showed up when he hit the bar in the 73rd minute off a well struck free kick just outside of the box.

In the 79th Henriquez was found in the box all by himself off a cross from Maloney (again) and suddenly it was a game. 

11 minutes to go in normal time and it was going to be all we could do to hold on.

Martinez knew Reading had secured three points on the day, so it would have to be another dogfight to keep up with the Royals.

In the 82nd Figueroa launched a wicked strike that passed a diving Mignolet wide to the side.

In the 84th, Sess was pulled for an added defender in Phil Bardsley to attempt to give more energy and protection at the back.

Nail biting time for both fans had begun.

Three points for us would be huge, but no doubt a draw would be even bigger for Wigan.

Fatigue was beginning to show at the back as we tirelessly defended.

We'd run counter attacks in the second half on many occassions only to have to get back to cover.

Come on time...move!

Wigan would not quit.  It seemed they had buckets and buckets of energy.  And all we could do was kick the ball out of the box or out of bounds.

Five minutes of extra time?  How?  Why?

Then there comes Elmo...in the 93rd minute to help keep us ahead.

Thankfully Boselli's header moments from time fell weakly to Mignolet.

Oh relief!  First away win we've won after conceeding the first goal in over 4 years?!  Reason to celebrate.

Bravo Lads for holding on.  Big match on the 29th at the SOL against a tough Swansea City side.  Let's keep this going!