The story of the game as Sunderland fall to another away defeat at Shrewsbury Town
Sunderland fell to another away defeat at Shrewsbury Town despite hitting the woodowrk three times in their attempts to find an equaliser.
Jason Cumming’s first-half goal proved the difference and though the Black Cats threw everything at the opposition goal, they lost more ground in the race for League One promotion.
After such an impressive home debut, Phil Parkinson resisted the urge to freshen up his side, with Aiden McGeady replacing the injured Lynden Gooch in the only change.
The team’s rhythm did not ook to have been disrupted, the visiting side starting confidently on the ball and finding space between Shrewsbury Town’s back five.
They should have taken the lead just two minutes when Maguire wriggled free of his marker near the halfway line, driving forward and releasing the overlapping Denver Hume.
His cross was good, low and right into the path of McGeady, who just turned his first-time effort over the bar.
It set the tone for a promising opening to the game, Sunderland regularly finding space down the left as McGeady and Hume caused problems for former Black Cat Donald Love.
Hume was a threat throughout the half, but just lacked the final ball when he got to the byline.
Despite their control of th eball, the away side were unable to turn that possession into dangerous efforts on goal, Max Power and Maguire both taking aim from range but badly misfiring.
Shrewsbury were resolute and defended in numbers, but got a vital lead with their first teal attack of intent.
Midfielder Josh Laurent did superbly, picking the ball up in a central area and driving into space on the left-hand side.
Sunderland couldn’t stop his low cross, Jason Cummings showing good anticipation to drop into space, turning home a fine finish that left Lee Burge completely unmoved.
Burge was scrambling across his goal ten minutes later when Cummings fired a low free-kick towards the bottom corner, but the goalkeeper did well to palm clear.
The equaliser almost came when Will Grigg made a fine run behind the defence, teeing up Maguire who thumped an effort from the edge of the area off the post.
The home side looked relatively comfortable at the break, though, and Parkinson was forced into a change with Jon McLaughlin replacing Lee Burge.
The second half began in open fashion, Sunderland on top but vulnerable on the counter as Laurent regularly demonstrated that ability to carry the ball over long distances.
The Black Cats were handed a significant opening when Watmore made a dangerous run off the shoulder, the forward adamant that he was fouled as he went to shoot. The referee waved play on, but the clearance was straight to Maguire, who forced a decent stop from Max O’Leary with a powerful effort.
Wtmore lasted an hour on his third start in a week, Parkinson turning to Marc McNulty in search of an equaliser.
Shrewsbury looked a threat on the break but Sunderland came inches away from an equaliser when McGeady got free down the left, Grigg just unable to connect with his low cross yards from goal.
The striker went close again when George Dobson found him in the box, turning onto his left foot and curling an effort just wide of the far post.
Sunderland were beginning to apply some sustained pressure as the game entered the last 15 minutes, McGeady volleying over at the back post after a good cross from Maguire.
Shrewsbury’s attacking threat was dwindling as the away side pushed further up, and they hit the post when Luke O’Nien showed great desire to get above his marker, powering a header towards goal and past O’Leary.
The home goalkeeper then produced a stunning stop to turn a goalbound effort from Power into the crossbar, the midfielder striking superbly after running onto a pass at the edge of the area.
Parkinson had thrown on Benji Kimpioka in the search for an equaliser but the home side saw out four minutes of stoppage time to take the three points.
Sunderland XI: Burge (McLaughlin, 45); O’Nien, Willis, Lynch, Hume; Power, Dobson; Watmore (McNulty, 59), Maguire, McGeady, Grigg (Kimpioka, 83)
Subs: Flanagan, Leadbitter, McLaughlin, McGeouch
Shrewsbury Town XI: O’Leary; Love, Pierre, Beckles, Williams, Golbourne; Norburn, Edwards (Thompson, 68), Laurent; Whalley (Goss, 81), Cummings (Okenabirhie, 57)
Subs: Murphy, Walker, McCormick, Barnett
Bookings: Lynch, 33 Norburn, 34 Dobson, 58