Sunderland AFC 0-1 Charlton Athletic
Sunderland dropped their first home points of the season on Saturday afternoon, going down by a solitary goal against Charlton Athletic at the Stadium of Light.
Jayden Stockley headed the decisive goal after 66 minutes for the visitors, who were competing in their first game since the departure of Nigel Adkins.
Lee Johnson named an unchanged side for the return to Wearside, Alex Pritchard fit to start after sustaining a neck injury on Tuesday night.
Lynden Gooch and Corry Evans returned from injury on the day, but the result forces the Lads to lick their wounds ahead of the midweek Carabao Cup last 16 trip to QPR.
The contest began in a bitty fashion, both defences coming out on top for much of the first half.
The Lads did however work a couple of shots in the opening stages, with Craig MacGillivray denying both Aiden O’Brien and Dennis Cirkin – the latter after what is becoming a regular weaving run into the area.
The Charlton stopper was called into his most significant action much later in the half, Ross Stewart’s first-time hit from close-range being kept out at an angle.
At the other end, Jason Pearce headed wide following a long ball into the area, with the visitors often enjoying longer spells of possession and defending in an organised manner.
However, Sunderland did construct some good play out to the wide areas, Pritchard showing excellent composure on the ball.
With the first 45 minutes goalless, the second half saw the match open up and the Lads were inches away from taking the lead through Cirkin, who received Pritchard’s pull-back and fired against the underside of the crossbar.
Aiden McGeady also curled a left-footed strike wide for Lee Johnson’s side, before MacGillivray swept up a Carl Winchester hit from range.
For Charlton, Elliot Lee passed up the two main opportunities in the first part of the second half – first not managing a clean contact from close range, before seeing a shot inside the area well blocked by a succession of Sunderland defenders.
But midway through the half, the Londoners did break the deadlock. A ball was sent over from the right-hand side by Jonathan Leko, which captain Jayden Stockley reached first – his header looping in and crossing the line.
The Black Cats had to find a response and looked to test MacGillivray. A square pass from substitute Leon Dajaku – who came on with the returning Lynden Gooch – almost found Stewart but for the intervention of the goalkeeper, and a free-kick from Luke O’Nien wasblocked by the Charlton defence.
A huge penalty shout for the Lads was then waved away immediately after, Stewart diverting Carl Winchester’s pass goalwards, Pearce appearing to block the strike with his arm, but the referee was not convinced.
As frustration grew, the Lads continued to try and press forward, Dajaku blazing a strike just off target. The flow was often disrupted by the whistle, with Charlton looking to lower the tempo at every opportunity, and eventually the away side saw out their win.
SUNDERLAND AFC: Hoffmann; Winchester, Flanagan, Doyle, Cirkin; O’Nien, Neil (Evans 80’); Pritchard (Dajaku 70’), O’Brien (Gooch 70’), McGeady ©; Stewart.
Subs not used: Burge, Alves, Wright, Hume.
Charlton Athletic: MacGillivray; Matthews, Lavelle (Pearce 31’), Famewo, Purrington; Dobson, Gilbey, Leko (Jaiyesimi 90+1’); Lee (Clare 80’), Washington, Stockley.
Subs not used: Henderson, Blackett-Taylor, Davison, Watson.