Chris Coleman’s men would travel to Craven Cottage, home of promotion chasing Fulham, for the penultimate game of a disastrous season. This would prove to be Cookie’s last game in charge of the Black Cats as he was dismissed on Sunday morning following Ellis Short’s sale of the club.
16 year old Bali Mumba was on the bench after shining in the youth system. Joel Asoro warranted a start whilst Billy Jones and Marc Wilson covered in the full back roles for the injured Donald Love and Bryan Oviedo respectively.
First Impressions and The Ground
The Cottage is right on the banks of the Thames, about a 15 minute walk from Putney Bridge Underground station on the District Line. Recommended by Football Ground Guide was the Eight Bells, a few minutes from the away end but as usual for London games, the travelling support gathered in the Miller’s around the corner from King’s Cross.
The ground itself is a traditional stadium, which is over 100 years old! The away fans are put in the Putney End, backing onto the Thames; a neutral section fills the rest of the stand. As a standard there were a good range of stupidly overpriced pies and beers as well as burgers available from kiosks.
Sunderland were, as we have been so often this season, on the back foot. The home side seemed to batter the Mackems’ defence in the opening period, Lucas Piazon came close twice and Ryan Fredericks caused chaos down Sunderland’s left hand flank. PFA Young Player of the Season nominee Ryan Sessegnon also caused hassle down the right, his pace often proving too much for Billy Jones.
However, despite being peppered, Sunderland took the lead on the counter, courtesy of Sunderland’s Young Player of the Season Joel Asoro. The Swede turned and smashed a shot into the bottom corner past the helpless Peter Bettinelli from outside the area; not a bad way to celebrate your 19th birthday!
As we’ve experienced far too often this season, leads do not last, and this proved to be the case again as referee Peter Banks waved away Sunderland penalty claims after Ejaria was clearly tripped. Within 60 seconds, Fulham had leveled on the stroke of half time; Piazon tapped home beyond the diving Jason Steele.
Sunderland looked to have relaxed second half and seemed happy with a point but that would come back and bite them in the backside as on loan Newcastle striker Alexander Mitrovic headed the Cottagers in the driving seat.
The Serbian lost his marker, Ashley Fletcher, and nodded home Stefan Johansen’s free kick, although he appeared to be in an offside position. O’Shea had done a decent job keeping the front man quiet but for some bizarre reason, striker Fletcher was marking him and, ultimately, it cost Sunderland.
In the dying stages of the contest, Callum McManaman, Mitrovic and Aboubakar Kamara all received cautions from Mr Banks after a mild push. McManaman shoulder charged Mitrovic off the ball before striker Kamara pushed the former Wigan winger in the face.
In the full, the game was meaningless for us but it meant Slavisa Jokanovic’s men went second but, only until Saturday when Neil Warnock’s Cardiff beat Hull to reclaim the second automatic promotion place.
In my personal opinion, Coleman probably should’ve handed a debut to Mumba just to give him some first team experience. Also, I’m unsure why the Welshman opted for Wilson at left back rather than the more capable Adam Matthews.
Now Coleman’s gone who will replace him? There’s been plenty rumours ranging from Super Kev to Mick McCarthy and even Jaap Stam but nobody knows really, to be honest very few of us know what the current situation is! All we know is a bloke called Stewart Donald has taken over the club, with a few financial backers, Short has written off the debt and Coleman has ‘left’ the club.
In my opinion, Coleman was a bit harshly treated; although I have been critical of Cookie, I quite liked the bloke when I spoke to him in person. His tactics were questionable at times, as were his winter signings.
Look out next week as I give my opinions on the bookies’ favourites for the next Sunderland boss and my opinions on who I’d appoint if I were the new chairman.
Thanks for reading and all the best.