Boom! Sunderland fans rock & who needs Lewis Grabban when we've got Josh Maja; 5 first thoughts

Sunderland's first win at the Stadium of Light for 364 long days as David Moyes, the man responsible for so much of that tortuous period, sends Newcastle into the Premier League's bottom three. Has the world gone completely mad? A Christmas treat for sure. 


They've done it, Sunderland managed to avoid going a calendar year without a win with one day to spare. It was never in doubt, right? Perhaps it was, as the odds would suggest. Perhaps you'd have taken advantage of the favourable home odds had you used Top Football Tipster.

Chris Coleman has the Black Cats looking organised if still lacking pace and creativity but the headlines belong to Josh Maja who scored his first goal, on his league debut, within four minutes of entering the field of play. Happy days. 

Here's our five first thoughts after thawing our frozen fingers from a bone chilling afternoon at the Stadium of Light. But it was sure worth it. 

Josh Maja achieves more in 4 minutes than James Vaughan has all season

Chris Coleman opted to go with Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan lined up alongside each other for a fairly tortuous 70-odd minutes before gazing up at the Stadium of Light scoreboard to check the time and deciding he'd seen enough. The introduction of Josh Maja and Joel Asoro lifted the crowd and the home fans were rewarded almost instantly with Maja's maiden strike. 

James Vaughan had put himself about and took something of a battering from Fulham's solid centre halves but it's not really enough at this level, especially for a side who need to continue the current point-scoring form to lift themselves further out of trouble. The summer signing from Bury had a couple of chances and was denied by some great goalkeeping early in the second half, but his decision-making is generally awful and a paltry two-goal haul from 20 appearances this season sums him up 

And hey, it may be a massively premature to yell "who needs Lewis Grabban when we've got Josh Maja", but it's tempting all the same. 

Cattermole's suspension proved to be a blessing?

He wasn't exactly missed was he? This was the sort of game the old Lee Cattermole would have been all over with Fulham enjoying more than their share of possession, but Sunderland probably looked brighter for his forced omission. 

With Honeyman and Gooch offering sufficient legs to take pressure of those behind them, and Darron Gibson continuing his promising rehabilitation in a red-and-white shirt, the Black Cats midfield looked better without Cattermole. 

Three centre-halves with Browning the main man again

Three centre-backs looks to be the basis on which Chris Coleman will build this Sunderland side then and Tyias Browning is proving to be the rock in the midst of the system. 

The Everton loanee was good again today and Marc Wilson had one of his better games alongside him since arriving in the summer. John O'Shea may be finished but the pair with him are proving they can compensate for his inability to keep pace with lively opposition forwards. 

5-3-2 at home looks a goer with 5-4-1 on the road to keep things a little tighter and clean sheets are suddenly back in fashion with three shutouts in Chris Coleman's opening five games. 

Matthews is showing his worth at last

He's still a bit dodgy defensively but Adam Matthews is looking an accomplished footballer at last. At the time Dick Advocaat signed him it seemed an odd acquisition but little did we know the ageing Dutchman had envisaged the right-back would eventually prove useful as a left-back in the Championship. 

He'll never make a Premier League player but Matthews was again one of the standouts in the Sunderland side today. He looks tidy going forward, is comfortable with the ball at his feet and he can deliver a decent ball from out wide. The Welshman could have a good few years of his career here and he should be familiar enough with his former international manager's methods as Chris Coleman gets to work with the the Lads. 

Fans prove themselves week after week & finally get some reward

Some would have you believe that the Sunderland fans have been the problem all along during the terrible near-12 month awful run at home. 

Of course, the support has never turned on its own and a hardcore of 25-27k have continued to show up this season. The chatter about the Stadium of Light being a difficult place to play has exclusively come from individuals who don't pay their money at the gate and don't fork out their own hard earned cash to turn out at SR5. 

The Sunderland fans were positive and supportive throughout this afternoon's proceedings and we've all come away rewarded a little for our patience and our passion this afternoon. Even before the goal there was enough support to keep the home players going but the outpouring of joy upon Maja's winner was class. 

The relief was clear and the players in red-and-white made sure they acknowledged the home support at the full time whistle. The bonds which have been stretched following a horrible year are still in place and we can look to 2018 now for better times to come. 










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