Sunderland AFC 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
Sunderland deservedly beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1 at the Stadium of Light in the Sky Bet Championship.
After a goalless first 45, Sunderland opened the scoring through a towering Dan Ballard header before Dan Neil doubled their advantage inside the final 10 minutes with an ice-cold dinked finish. Brandon Thomas-Asante’s late header pulled a goal back for the Baggies.
Mike Dodds took control of first-team duties following the departure of Tony Mowbray and made two changes to Sunderland’s starting XI. Jobe and Patrick Roberts replacing Mason Burstow and Abdoullah Ba.
Sunderland created the game's first opportunity inside the opening 10 minutes, Luke O’Nien’s speculative volley clearing Alex Palmer’s crossbar from the edge of the box.
West Brom almost broke the deadlock moments later when Alex Mowatt’s drilled attempt from 20 yards out rolled inches wide of Anthony Patterson’s right-hand post.
Jobe thought he had opened the scoring from close-range after pouncing on a loose ball, but the goal was ruled out for offside despite replays showing he was onside.
Sunderland ramped up the pressure on the half-hour mark and almost found the game's elusive goal. Clarke’s free-kick was blocked but the rebound fell into the path of Niall Huggins 18 yards out, but the full-back’s shot was comfortably collected by Palmer.
The Black Cats started the second half in rampant fashion, Roberts manoeuvred space down the left before cutting inside and cannoning his shot off Palmer's far post with the Baggies goalkeeper expertly saving Clarke’s follow-up effort with an outstretched hand.
Clarke again was among the thick of the action minutes later, collecting the ball inside the box before thrashing his shot well wide of Palmer’s near post despite Jobe being unmarked inside the six-yard box.
Sunderland deservedly took the lead on 70 minutes when Ballard rose highest inside the visitor’s danger area to head home Alex Pritchard’s pin-point free-kick.
Neil sealed victory on 84 minutes with a deft finish after collecting substitute Pritchard’s superb through ball before composing himself to dink the ball over an advancing Palmer and double Sunderland’s lead.
West Brom pulled a goal back two minutes later through Thomas-Asante to set up a nervy ending. The second-half substitute headed Avila Gordon’s cross into the roof of Patterson’s net.
Despite six minutes of additional time, the Lads controlled possession to claim a well-earned victory on home soil - the win moves Sunderland into the Sky Bet Championship play-off places.
The Black Cats are back in action at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday evening when they face promotion-chasing Leeds United.
SAFC XI: Patterson, Hume, O’Nien ©, Ballard, Huggins, Ekwah, Neil, Aouchiche (Pritchard 61’), Roberts (Mayenda 81’), Clarke, Jobe.
Subs not used: Bishop, Seelt, Triantis, Ba, Burstow, Rusyn, Dack.
WBA XI: Palmer, Furlong, Townsend, Kipre, Bartley (Ajayi 75’), Mowatt, Molumby (Chalobah 60’), Sarmiento, Swift (Avila Gordon 75’), Diangana (Thomas-Asante 60’), Maja (Fellows 35’)
Subs not used: Griffiths, Pieters, Taylor.