CARETAKER manager Eric Black named Ji Dong-won for his first Sunderland start as new manager Martin O’Neill watched from the stands today.
Michael Turner dropped out of the line-up that started last weekend’s 2-1 home loss to Wigan, a defeat that became Steve Bruce’s last as manager.
Wolves boss Mick McCarthy axed club skipper and centre-back Roger Johnson as he made four changes for the Barclays Premier League relegation battle at Molineux.
Johnson, fellow defender George Elokobi and midfielders Nenad Milijas and the suspended Karl Henry made way for Jody Craddock, Jamie O’Hara, Stephen Hunt and fit again Kevin Doyle. Left-back Stephen Ward was handed the skipper’s armband.
There was a minute’s applause in memory of Gary Speed before the match kicked-off in cold conditions with rain falling.
It was an even start, Sunderland threatening first after four minutes, Seb Larsson’s cross from the right being partially cleared by Craddock.
Stephane Sessegnon was first to the loose ball, but his well-struck volley was held by Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey.
Wolves replied in the eighth minute with a corner that saw Steven Fletcher’s far post header saved on the line by Kieren Westwood.
Sessegnon went down theatrically in the box under Craddock’s challenge just before the half-hour, but referee Phil Dowd waved play-on.
But Sunderland surived a big scare six minutes from the break when Stephen Hunt reached Matt Jarvis’s brilliant cross from the right but Westwood somehow managed to keep out the Irishman’s point-blank shot.
Seconds later, Lee Cattermole’s foul on Kevin Doyle earned the Sunderland skipper his fifth yellow card of the season and a ban for next weekend’s home clash with Blackburn.
The visitors had their best effort so far on 42 minutes, Kieran Richardson rampaging forward to support the attack and finding Sessegnon in the area.
The Benin international showed great footwork to make space for a shot that beat Hennessey, but was hooked clear by Stephen Ward.