Wigan v SAFC

O'Neill hails 'big win'

by Stuart Vose

Boss delighted to seal three points in Lancashire.

Martin O'Neill was delighted with his side's response to an early setback as they bagged three away points at Wigan.

An own goal from David Vaughan saw Sunderland fall behind after only five minutes, but the visitors roared back to take a 3-1 lead.

Wigan pulled a goal back late on but there was to be no last-gasp comeback as Sunderland repelled late pressure to secure maximum points.

The support for the football club is fantastic. They’ve come in their droves to watch us in freezing conditions and they were magnificent

- Martin O'Neill

“It was a really big win for us,” said O'Neill, whose side have now taken 12 points from their last six league games.

“After going a goal behind early on it was almost as if there was a hangover from Tuesday night, but having said that we responded brilliantly.”

Craig Gardner netted a coolly-taken penalty on the quarter-hour to level the game before leading scorer Steven Fletcher took over.

The Scottish hitman lashed home an Alfred N'Diaye cross for 2-1 before smashing a rising drive into the top corner.

“We got the penalty, but before that there was decent play,” O'Neill reflected.

“Alfred had a shot go over the bar and the equaliser looked like it might come.

“When we got it, we played some brilliant football and put ourselves 3-1 in front.”

Stung into life at half time, Wigan started the second period strongly and put the visitors under considerable pressure.

They broke through 10 minutes from time when sub Angelo Henriquez headed home, but Sunderland held out to take the points.

“I would have preferred to come out in the second half and make the game a little more comfortable but that wasn’t the case,” O'Neill added.

“We had problems with Wigan last year and they set up to cause us the same problems.

“Wigan were dangerous – [Simon] Mignolet made some great saves when they kept pressing and we were on the back foot, but on the break we looked like we could put the game beyond them.

“They showed great heart and determination to get the goal back but fortunately we saw it through.”

And the Sunderland boss reserved the last word for the 4,825 travelling supporters, who battled their way through wintry conditions to cheer their side on at the DW Stadium.

They were left celebrating at the end and O'Neill was delighted to be able to lay on three points as a reward for their commitment.

“The support for the football club is fantastic,” he said. “They’ve come in their droves to watch us in freezing conditions and they were magnificent.

“They took the whole end behind the goal and supported the team right through – it was unbelievably encouraging.”