Alex Neil's Sunderland substitutions, plus Luke O’Nien credits Jay Matete after Elliot Embleton's winner: Moments you may have missed at Oxford

When Alex Neil made his second substitution in the 78th minute at Oxford’s Kassam Stadium, it appeared the Sunderland boss may be content with a point.

Sunday, 10th April 2022, 1:54 pm

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Centre-back Danny Batth replaced forward Nathan Broadhead as the Black Cats switched to a back four. The match between two play-off contenders was still level at 1-1.

Neil was wary of Oxford’s threat from set-pieces and long throw-ins and Batth’s introduction would therefore give the visitors more aerial presence.

Since his appointment in February, Neil has often been bold with his substitutions, and made another half-time change here as Luke O’Nien replaced Patrick Roberts.

Sunderland midfielder Jay Matete playing against Oxford. Picture by FRANK REID

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Yet it was another substitute in Elliot Embleton, who replaced Jack Clarke with five minutes remaining, who scored a crucial winner in the 89th minute.

Here are some of the moments you may have missed:

Luke O’Nien credits Jay Matete

Embleton’s winner came after a neat Sunderland move, which was accelerated by Jay Matete charging through midfield.

The 21-year-old then passed to Luke O’Nien on the edge of Oxford’s box, before Ross Stewart set up Embleton for the winning goal.

After the Sunderland players had run over to celebrate in front of the soldout away end, O’Nien sought out Matete and pointed to his midfield team-mate in front of the Black Cats supporters.

After starting on the bench against Lincoln and Gillingham, Matete was recalled to the starting XI here. The faith placed in the former Fleetwood midfielder paid off in the closing stages.

Anthony Patterson’s brilliant save

At the other end of the pitch there were some nervy moments for Sunderland, not least midway through the second half.

In the 66th minute Oxford’s pressure looked like it would pay off as substitute Gavin Whyte clipped a cross to the back post for U’s full-back Ciaron Brown.

The defender sent a thumping header towards goal and it took an excellent save from Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson to claw the ball away.

While Patterson did concede a goal here, ending a run of three successive clean sheets, he was a key factor behind this result, and made another fine save to tip Mark Sykes’ shot over the bar in the fourth minute.

Matty Taylor kept quiet

While Ross Stewart remains the top scorer in League One with 22 goals this season, Oxford forward Matty Taylor isn’t far behind him.

But after netting his 20th goal of the season at Morecambe earlier in the week, the 32-year-old failed to register a single effort here.

While Sunderland’s defence did look a little exposed at times, Taylor was often marshalled by Black Cats centre-back Bailey Wright, who has been a key player since Neil’s appointment.

Dan Neil chants

The Sunderland supporters were sent into raptures when Embleton scored his last-gasp winner, and their celebrations continued after the final whistle.

After both teams had left the pitch, many fans were still inside the ground when Sunderand’s substitutes returned to the field to start their cool down

Dan Neil may have been an unused substitute but was still greeted by chants of ‘Dan Neil, he’s one of our own.’

That prompted Batth to pick up his team-mate, who was recently voted the club’s Young Player of the Season, and it led to another light-hearted cheer to cap off a dramatic afternoon.