Report: Birmingham City 2-1 Sunderland

Birmingham City 2-1 Sunderland

Sunderland fell to a 2-1 defeat against Birmingham City in the Sky Bet Championship at a sold-out St. Andrews.

Jack Clarke's 15th goal of the season put Sunderland ahead midway through the first half, before close-range tap-ins from Jordan James and Koji Miyoshi after the break handed Birmingham all three points.

Romaine Mundle made his full Sunderland debut as Michael Beale opted to make two changes following their midweek defeat against Huddersfield Town. Mason Burstow also returned to the Black Cats’ starting XI in replace of Nazariy Rusyn.

The visitors almost broke the deadlock inside the opening 10 minutes when Jobe skilfully drifted past his man down the Blues’ byline, before firing straight at John Ruddy from an acute angle.

Pierre Ekwah tried his luck from 25 yards minutes later after collecting Clarke’s pass, but the midfielder's attempt sailed over Ruddy’s crossbar.

Sunderland dominated possession and should have scored but Burstow failed to capitalise on Mundle’s cross, the striker blazing his effort over Ruddy’s woodwork from six yards out.

A brilliant Anthony Patterson fingertip save denied Jay Stansfield’s long-range volley from the edge of the box on 19 minutes to keep the score goalless.

A composed Clarke deservedly put the visitors ahead on 22 minutes after capitalising on a sloppy back pass by Paik Seung-Ho before coolly slotting the ball into Ruddy’s far post.

Mundle thought he had doubled Sunderland’s advantage inside the final five minutes of the first half, the debutant held off his man inside the host's danger area before forcing Ruddy into a superb stop to tip his curling effort around the post.

Birmingham ramped up the pressure after the interval in search of a leveller, but the Lads held firm and absorbed the host's pressure inside the opening 15 minutes of the second half.

However, the hosts did equalise on the hour mark through James after an initial melee inside the Black Cats' 18-yard box – firstly Patterson neatly saved Tyler Roberts’ driven shot, Trai Hume then cleared Miyoshi’s side-footed strike off the line with the rebound falling kindly to James for a simple tap-in.

Burstow thought he had restored Sunderland's lead when he nodded Clarke's pin-point free-kick past Ruddy, but the linesman was quick to rule the goal out for offside.

Birmingham turned the match on its head inside the final 10 minutes when Miyoshi poked Juninho Bacuna’s deflected cross past an advancing Patterson.

Beale issued a rallying cry to his team as the match entered its final moments - Clarke coming closest to pulling the visitors level inside added time after manoeuvring space on the edge of the box but Ruddy was down quickly to gather the ball from danger.

The Black Cats are back in action next Saturday as they return to home soil for the visit of Swansea City in the Sky Bet Championship.

SAFC XI: Patterson, Hume (Hemir 87’), O’Nien ©, Ballard, Hjelde, Neil, Ekwah, Jobe, Mundle (Ba 69’), Clarke, Burstow (Rusyn 69’)

Subs not used: Bishop, Pembele, Aouchiche, Seelt, Rigg, Kelly.

BCFC XI: Ruddy, Drameh, Bielik, Roberts, Laird, Dozzell, Paik (Bacuna 66’), Roberts (Dembele 66’), Miyoshi, James, Stansfield (Jutkiewicz 90’)

Subs not used: Etheridge, Buchanan, Anderson, Gardner, Sunjic

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