Ethan's Report: Full time for Grayson as Sunderland continue to underwhelm

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Sunderland went into the game knowing if they were to lose they’d go bottom of the league.

Simon Grayson made a few changes to the side that were defeated by Bristol City on Saturday in what would be his final team selection as Sunderland manager. This included Dutch goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter returning in between the sticks rather than Steele who has been subject to heavy criticism. Marc Wilson returned from injury and replaced Lamine Kone and Adam Matthews started at right back over Billy Jones. Darron Gibson also replaced Lee Cattermole, another player subject to heavy criticism.

Sunderland had an early penalty shout turned down and created a few half chances without threatening to score the opener. It was Phil Parkinson’s men who broke the deadlock through Sammy Ameobi, the former Newcastle striker. Ameobi picked the ball up a long way out and was allowed an unchallenged shot from 25 yards out, which beat Ruiter at his near post. 

Sunderland equalised on the stroke of half time, Croydon born striker Lewis Grabban found the net after a defence splitting ball from Gabon midfielder Didier Ndong played him in on goal. Grabban squeezed the ball past former Sunderland goalie Ben Alnwick from a tight angle.

Just before the hour mark the on loan hitman struck again. It all started on the left when Grabban picked out Ndong on the edge, he then threaded a pass into path of Bryan Oviedo about 10 yards out, the Costa Rican full back could have took the opportunity himself, but chose to set up Grabbon to tap in to empty net. Sunderland finally led at the Stadium of Light.

The lead was short lived as, on the hour mark, striker Gary Madine equalised for Wanderers. Grabban’s sliced clearance fell to Josh Vela who headed into the danger area; O’Shea and Wilson botched the second clearance and it fell on a golden plate for Madine who blasted past the helpless Ruiter.

A Sunderland corner soon turned into another Bolton goal, Adam Armstrong, on loan from Newcastle, ran and kept on running before being tackled by Ndong. The midfielder then carelessly attempted to find his goalkeeper but instead played it horribly short and straight to Antonee Robinson. Robinson played in a delightful cross for Karl Henry to volley into the bottom left corner past the motionless Ruiter.

Northern Irishman Paddy McNair came off the bench to save the Mackems from going bottom. Duncan Watmore caused problems down the right and cut inside but struggled to keep hold of the ball. Vaughan and Watmore combined to squeeze a pass to McNair arriving on the edge of the area who then drove a left footed shot home. The midfielder’s strike could’ve been dealt with better but Sunderland fans won’t be complaining.
Full time for Simple Simon

After the game, Sunderland AFC released an official club statement announcing that they had “parted company with manager Simon Grayson”, with the Wearsiders sitting third bottom and conceding three at home to the basement side proving too much and consequently Grayson was axed. This wasn’t out of the blue, a lot of Sunderland supporters had been calling for the ex Preston managed to be shown the door. After picking up only 10 points from 15 games, Sunderland did lift to 22nd position after Burton Albion were defeated but were only above the Brewers on goal difference.

A defensive horror show on Halloween from the men in red and white cost Grayson his job, but it was written in the stars for him. It was an underwhelming appointment when he arrived through the doors in July and it proved experience of this league isn’t always everything.

Player Ratings:

Ruiter: 4, Matthews: 4, O’Shea: 3, Wilson: 3, Oviedo: 5, Gibson: 4 (McNair ’75), Ndong: 4, Williams: 2 (Vaughan ’45), McManaman: 4 (Watmore ’61), McGeady: 3, Grabban: 7

McNair: 6, Vaughan: 4, Watmore: 6

Twitter and Instagram: @ethan_thoburn

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