An impressive comeback from Wolves ruined the joy of Martin O’Neill’s appointment and condemned the Black Cats to 17th position in the league. Wolves meanwhile will be glad of the three points as they propelled themselves up to 15th , buying Mick McCarthy some extra time to turn around his season.
The was plenty of Irish involvement in the game today with Stephen Hunt, Stephen Ward and Kevin Doyle playing for Wolves.
Kieren Westwood and John O’Shea also started for Sunderland, while former Derry City winger James McClean made the bench, although there was no room for highly rated midfielder David Meyler.
Each team possesses an Irish manager too, but Martin O’Neill was safely wrapped up in the director’s box where he was casting his eye over his new team.
The first half was a tepid enough affair until things began to liven up towards the half time whistle. Nevertheless, early on in the half Sunderland were sweating when Wolves threatened, but a desperate goal-mouth scramble culminated in Kieren Westwood safely clutching the ball in his hands.
Arguably the most spectacular moment of the half came when Stephen Hunt tested his international compatriot Kieren Westwood with a stinging shot on 39 minutes, but the Sunderland goalkeeper was equal to the task and pulled off a tremendous save, showing that he is more than capable of deputising for Shay Given.
Minutes later it was Sunderland’s turn to test Wolves but Stephane Sessegnon despaired as he watched his effort get hacked off the line by Irish defender Stephen Ward.
Sunderland started the second half with similar tempo and took the lead five minutes into the half when Kieran Richardson latched onto a Sessegnon pass to round off a scintillating counter attack with a goal.
The Black Cats won a dubious penalty on 70 minutes when Craddock fouled Larsson, who the Wolves players felt to have dived. However an inspired Hennessy saved the spot-kick from Larsson and in a spectacular minute, Fletcher immediately equalised for Wolves with a headed goal from Jarvis’ cross.
Wolves were clearly buoyed by their equaliser and they increased their tally on 80 minutes, with Fletcher grabbing his second of the game from inside the box.
However there were controversial circumstances and Sunderland players protested that Fletcher was offside, but the referee dismissed their complaints and awarded the goal meaning that the game finished 2-1 to Wolves.
Sunderland are 6.4 or 11/2 on Betfair to be relegated from the Premier League this season, and after today’s defeat, it appears Martin O’Neill truly has a job on his hands.
Wolves: Hennessey Craddock (Johnson 73)Ward Berra Zubar Edwards Hunt (Hammill 65) Jarvis O’Hara Fletcher Doyle (Ebanks-Blake 65)
Subs: De Vries, Elokobi, Stearman, Johnson, Hammill, Milijas, Ebanks-Blake
Sunderland: Westwood Bardsley Brown Richardson O’Shea Cattermole Larsson Colback Sessegnon (Noble 85) Ji Dong-Won (Elmohamady 70) Bendtner
Subs: Carson, Bramble, Gardner, Vaughan, McClean, Elmohamady, Noble