Six things we learned as Sunderland win at home - Darron Gibson excels and bold Chris Coleman substitutions pay off
Sunderland finally ended their troubles at the Stadium of Light with a 1-0 win over Fulham thanks to Josh Maja's second half strike.
Here's what we learned from the 1-0 win over Fulham.
Finally, we can stop talking about the home record.
A total of 21 games and 364 days since the last win, Sunderland have won on home soil - to spark wild celebrations in the stands.
Sunderland produced a superb second half display and deserved the victory against Fulham, with Josh Maja’s first goal for the club on his league debut the difference.
SAFC may hold the record for the longest winless run in English football but a huge black cloud has been lifted.
Chris Coleman’s bold substitutions pay off.
The game was evenly poised when Coleman looked to his bench with 20 minutes left, it was a surprise to see Lewis Grabban - 11-goal top scorer - and James Vaughan replaced by Josh Maja and Joel Asoro. Bold but inspired. Fulham would have known little about the teenage duo and Maja scored to repay Coleman’s faith. The Welshman proving he is not afraid to make big calls.
Coleman has sorted out the defence.
When Coleman arrived Sunderland had the joint-worst defence in the Championship, shipping on average two a game meaning they had to score three just to get a result.
If that continued Sunderland were destined for League One. In Coleman’s first five games, Sunderland have three clean sheets.
SAFC are now well drilled and organised, playing a new system with five defenders and the players are rigidly sticking to the game plan.
Darron Gibson excels again.
Ex-Everton man Darron Gibson has been heavily criticised since arriving on Wearside after a difficult start to his Sunderland career - on and off the pitch - but he has been excellent under Coleman.
With Lee Cattermole suspended, Paddy McNair injured and Didier Ndong just back from injury, Coleman’s options were limited but Gibson stepped up the mark again, expertly shielding the defence in a calm manner, making several timely interceptions.
Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman an example to others.
The pair add energy, youthful exuberance and legs to the Sunderland midfield. They make mistakes but keep coming back for more, always wanting the ball.
Those two deserve a lot of credit and the more experienced midfielders have a battle to get back in the side.
New Sunderland system reaping rewards.
Simon Grayson experimented with three centre backs but quickly reverted to a flat back four. For Coleman, it is working wonders.
John O’Shea, Marc Wilson and Ty Browning have been excellent away at Wolves and in the home win over Fulham, with wingbacks Adam Matthews and Donald Love providing defensive support when the opposition have the ball.
Two clean sheets on the bounce, Sunderland finally have a solid platform from which to build.