Moment of inspiration from Chris Coleman delivers a priceless win for Sunderland

Maja sealed a precious win
Maja sealed a precious win
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Ever since his arrival on Wearside, Chris Coleman has been insistent that clear heads and bravery from his players would be crucial to ending the home hoodoo.

One day before the long winless run became a year old, he delivered himself.

It was a brave double substitution.

James Vaughan had been excellent, denied early in the second half only by a sensational close-range save from Marcus Bettinelli.

Lewis Grabban had been a touch disappointing given his exploits this season but the quality of his movement is clear for all to see and most would have seen that as Sunderland’s best route to a critical victory.

Coleman rolled the dice, throwing on the youth of Joel Asoro and Josh Maja.

At a critical juncture in Sunderland’s season, with embarrassing headlines only twenty minutes away, Maja was making his senior debut.

Within five minutes, he was a goalscorer.

Adam Matthews raided forward as he had done all game, passing the ball inside, where Maja showed the composure and strength that make him so highly rated.

He turned the centre-back with ease, slotting home and sparking a roar that the Stadium of Light has not heard for far too long.

The best moment of 2017 without question.

They came under intense pressure in the closing stages, Tom Cairney firing over with Fulham pouring bodies forward.

They created good openings throughout the game, Oliver Norwood just missing a header at the back post early on in the contest. They dominated possession but Sunderland looked comfortable as the greater defensive organisation under Coleman shone through.

All over the pitch, improvements were clear. The composure on the ball better, the movement and energy second to none.

It is now seven points from five under Coleman and the ecstasy that greeted the final whistle told everything.

After a torturous twelve months, there is some hope on Wearside again.