safc.com’s Sam Lightle reflects on Sunderland’s disappointing defeat to Nottingham Forest at the Stadium of Light last night.
It was a night where Sunderland did everything but score. In the end, they were dealt a cruel blow by former Black Cats Daryl Murphy, who clinically finished after fending off Ty Browning’s challenge and finding the far corner of Robbin Ruiter’s goal. But it should’ve been a very different story. While Forest saw the bulk of possession, Sunderland’s direct approach saw them ask more questions of the visitors backline with Lewis Grabban, George Honeyman and Callum McManaman all going close in the opening period. Chances continued to rain in as the second period wore on, and as you can see by the graph below Sunderland saw 29.5% of the ball inside Forest’s final third. Adam Matthews and Bryan Oviedo played an important role in that, sweeping forward from full-back at every opportunity to offer support to the midfield and add further reinforcements in attacks.
MAN ON THE RIGHT
Callum McManaman produced an eye-catching display on his first start for the Black Cats. I highlighted his efforts after Saturday’s result and it was good to see the former Wigan Athletic winger replicate a similar performance. McManaman featured for 70 minutes and was arguably one of the stand out stars last night, carving out numerous chances from the right, with Grabban and George Honeyman going close off a cross. McManaman then had an effort charged down as he demanded Jonny Williams to roll it to him on the edge of the box as another chance went amiss. The 26-year-old continued to cause havoc in the second 45, getting closer to the box and even forcing a save from Jordan Smith as he bent his run and pulled the trigger.
Goals win games and Sunderland were made to learn that the hard way by the manner of last night’s defeat. The Black Cats had 14 chances over the 90 minutes but only three on target as they drew a blank in front of goal for the third time in four league matches. Grabban’s early departure with an injury forced Grayson to change things round, with James Vaughan being introduced before half-time. Grabban went off after touching the ball just once inside the area, however, he did have two efforts – one which whistled narrowly wide of Smith’s goal. But Vaughan could only muster one touch inside the area as the Black Cats struggled to stink their teeth in.