AFC Wimbledon 1-2 Sunderland
Lee Cattermole produced an outstanding performance at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, as Sunderland picked up their third consecutive Sky Bet League One win.
The Lads were forced to dig deep throughout as the powerful home side threatened to run away with it at times, but the combative midfielder led by example and equalised midway through the second-half.
Wimbledon had numerous chances to re-take the lead and should have been out of sight, but after hanging in the game, the Black Cats showed them how it’s done.
With just seven minutes remaining, Cattermole volleyed home at the back post to grind out a priceless three points.
Sunderland started on the front foot and they went within a whisker of the lead on five minutes, as Josh Maja’s cross looped inches wide of Tom King’s post.
But a bolt from the blue followed.
With nine minutes played, Andy Barcham skipped past Donald Love and picked out the towering Joe Pigott, who proved he’s far more than a battering ram with a terrific first-time volley.
The opener shook the Black Cats and the home side quickly penned them in, with an aerial bombardment putting Jon McLaughlin and his backline under immense pressure.
It was arguably the toughest period Ross’ side have faced this season, but backs-to-the wall defending kept them in the game.
Commanding goalkeeping from McLaughlin set the example as Pigott continued to threaten, while Cattermole produced a typically tenacious display in the middle.
The Lads grew into the game as half-time edged closer and they earned far more time on the ball, with Max Power smashing a low effort just wide on 35 minutes.
Alim Ozturk replaced Glenn Loovens at the interval, with a second change following six minutes after the restart when Dylan McGeouch came on for Power.
Wimbledon continued to push forward as Love headed off the line, but the Black Cats fired back as Honeyman was closed down just as he pulled the trigger.
Bryan Oviedo was next to enter the fray as Ross wasted no time, and a cracking chance followed as Maja’s pull-back flashed across goal, and agonisingly to safety.
But the Black Cats levelled with 65 minutes played, as Wimbledon failed to clear a corner and Cattermole tucked the ball into the net at the far post.
To their credit, the Dons dusted themselves down and they spurned several superb openings to re-take the lead.
A crazy two-minute spell saw the Lads ride their luck, as McLaughlin denied Barcham, Pigott struck the post, penalty appeals were waved away and Deji Oshilaja blazed over from close range.
The frenetic pace continued into the latter stages as McGeough’s 20-yard effort was charged down, but Ross’ men continued to live life on the edge as Lewis Trotter hammered another excellent opportunity over the top.
Sunderland needed a hero and with 83 minutes they got one, Cattermole bagging his second of the game with an arrowed volley flying into the corner.
And that, was that!
AFC Wimbledon: King, Sibbick, Purrington, Nightingale, Oshilaja, Pinnock (Wagstaff 67), Wordsworth, Trotter, Barcham (Garratta 85), Hanson, Pigott.
Subs not used: McDonnell, Thomas, Hartigan, McDonald, Burey.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Loovens (Ozturk 45), Baldwin, Love, James (Oviedo 58) , Cattermole, Power (McGeouch 51), Honeyman, Maguire, Gooch, Maja.
Subs not used: Ruiter, O’Nien, Embleton, Mumba.