Season Review: November

by Ashley Houghton

Win at Fulham highlight of November's action.

Aston Villa continued their fine run of form at the Stadium of Light with a 1-0 victory over Sunderland at the start of November.

Gabriel Agbonlahor scored the only goal for the Villans as Paul Lambert’s side made it one defeat in eight on Wearside.

Skipper Lee Cattermole, who arguably turned out his best performance of the season in the Villa defeat, bemoaned his team’s luck as the Black Cats fell to back-to-back defeats for the first time in the campaign.

“I had a shot towards the end of the game which ricocheted out between two Sunderland shirts. It's not going for us,” the midfielder said.

Following the defeat to Villa, both John Egan and David Meyler sealed loan moves to Bradford City and Hull City respectively.

Egan’s loan spell was cut short after the Republic of Ireland youth international broke his leg whilst with the Bantams whilst Meyler’s move became permanent in January.

Sunderland’s second game of the month was a trip to Everton, a team the Black Cats have notoriously struggled against in the 21st century.

Adam Johnson put the Wearsiders ahead only for two goals in three minutes first from Marouane Fellaini and then Nikica Jelavic giving the Toffees a 2-1 win and all three points.

Defender Carlos Cuellar was buoyed by the performance on Merseyside, though the result frustrated the Spaniard.

“The players are down at the moment, because we played so well and lost, but we can take confidence from that performance,” Cuellar added.

A week after the Everton defeat, young defender Blair Adams joined Coventry City on loan.

And, like Meyler, Adams would see his loan move made permanent in January.

The Black Cats ended a six-game winless run by recording their first away victory of the campaign at Craven Cottage.

Goals from Cuellar, Steven Fletcher and Stephane Sessegnon helped Sunderland on their way to a 3-1 victory over the Cottagers who had earlier equalised through Mladen Petric after Brede Hangeland had seen red in the first half.

Sessegnon's strike to seal the win was a goal of the season contender as the Beninese forward cut infield before launching an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Team-mate Fletcher, who failed to score in October after scoring in every Black Cats game in September, was delighted to get back on the scoresheet.

“When I received the ball and took my first touch I knew I wanted to put it in the far corner and fortunately I managed to do that,” the Scottish international added.

The penultimate game of November saw Sunderland lose out to West Bromwich Albion in a six-goal thriller at the Stadium of Light.

The Baggies won 4-2 in the game that produced the most goals at the SoL all campaign with Zoltan Gera and Shane Long giving the visitors a half-time lead.

Craig Gardner responded for the hosts from the penalty spot before Romelu Lukaku extended West Brom’s lead.

Stephane Sessegnon gave the Black Cats some late hope, though Marc- Antoine Fortune scored deep into injury time as Sunderland pushed for a late equaliser.

The Black Cats finished the month with a goalless draw at home to QPR in Harry Redknapp’s first game in charge of the Hoops.

Simon Mignolet was in fine form in the Sunderland goal whilst Fletcher missed two good chances to grab a winner for the hosts.

Manager Martin O’Neill rued his side’s inability to convert their chances as the Black Cats searched for a first home win in five games.

“I really felt that at any given stage we could have scored in the game, but it wasn’t to be,” O’Neill said.

Sunderland were also dealt a blow as captain Lee Cattermole limped out of the action - the skipper would be ruled out until mid-January and play only twice more all season.