Ha'way Back When: Fletcher double secures final win of Martin O'Neill's Sunderland reign
Wigan Athletic 2 Sunderland 3 '“ January 19, 2013Sunderland made it successive Premier League wins under Martin O'Neill to rise to 11th place in the Premier League as they edged an entertaining 3-2 victory at Wigan.
Steven Fletcher’s double led the way as the Black Cats responded brilliantly to going behind in just the fourth minute.
Jean Beausejour’s low cross found James McArthur, whose shot was shanked into the turf and bounced in the six-yard box before midfielder David Vaughan inadvertently directed it past Simon Mignolet.
Sunderland, though, were in front by the 20th minute.
Craig Gardner levelled from the penalty spot, sending Ali Al Habsi the wrong way after Seb Larsson’s 25-yard free-kick was blocked by the outstretched arm of McCarthy.
Debutant Alfred N’Diaye’s superb overlapping run led to Sunderland going 2-1 up as the midfielder lifted a left-footed cross to the far post, where Fletcher saw his header brilliantly blocked by Al-Habsi before the Scot tucked home the rebound on the volley.
Three minutes before half-time, it was 3-1 when Fletcher curled an unstoppable left-foot shot into the top corner from just inside the box, after being teed up by Adam Johnson.
Wigan produced a spirited comeback in the second half and hit the woodwork twice.
Mignolet produced a stunning full-length diving save to deny Shaun Maloney.
The woodwork spared Sunderland on 69 minutes when Jordi Gomez’s free-kick was deflected off the outstretched leg of Fletcher onto the top of the bar.
Moments later, Sessegnon spurned a glorious opportunity to seal the three points on the counter-attack.
Wigan hit the woodwork again in the 72nd minute when Maloney’s central free-kick from 20 yards struck the outside of the post.
Sub Angelo Henriquez finally halved the deficit on 79 minutes, heading past Simon Mignolet from six yards from Maloney’s cross.
But the Wearsiders survived a nervy finale to see out what proved to be the final win of O’Neill’s Sunderland reign.
The Irishman departed at the end of March, having secured just three draws from eight games following the win at Wigan.