Birmingham City 2-1 Sunderland: Second-half collapse and familiar failings in damaging defeat

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Sunderland have fallen to back-to-back defeats at a crucial moment in their play-off push

Sunderland fell to 2-1 defeat to Birmingham City on a damaging afternoon for their play-off aspirations.

The Black Cats had dominated the first half and took a deserved lead through Jack Clarke, but were outplayed by Tony Mowbray's side in a poor second-half display. Jordan James levelled the scores midway through the half and Koji Miyoshi's close-range strike turned the game on its head and secured the three points.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Here's the story of the game and its key talking points from a Sunderland perspective...


Birmingham made a fast start in front of their first sell-out crowd for around five years, but having come through that test it was the visitors who took control of the game. They were almost unrecognisable from the side who had laboured against Huddersfield days previous, though Birmingham's attacking approach under Mowbray helped create the space in which they tend to thrive.

It was the hosts who forged the early chances, Ruddy turning Jobe's cross/shot wide after he drove into the box, before Ekwah blazed well over from a relatively promising position outside of the box. Sunderland then had a major opening when Mundle, brought into the side for his full debut, whipped an excellent cross into the heart of the box. Burstow was there to meet it, but couldn't sort his feet in time and turned well over.

Birmingham almost took the lead against the run of play when a clearance from a corner dropped high out of the sky onto the foot of Jay Stansfield, whose glorious first-time volley required a flying stop from Patterson to turn over the bar. Generally, though, Birmingham were playing into dangerous areas and being dominated in midfield.


Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It turns out Clarke doesn't even need to be fully fit to get on the scoresheet. The winger was drawing nervous looks from the dugout and the away end after catching his foot between the pitch and the advertising hoardings, limping away gingerly and hobbling through the next ten minutes or so of the game.

He needed no invitation to intercept a dreadful pass across the pitch from Paik, however, beating Roberts to the ball and then slotting his effort past Ruddy into the far corner. It was the composure you'd expect of a player now on fifteen for the season, and though he didn't look at his sharpest at any stage for the rest of the half, he was able to carry on.


Mundle has shown flashes of his quality in his cameos so far but this was the moment he arrived as a Sunderland player, a constant menace throughout the half to the Birmingham defence. He went close to getting off the mark when applying pressure on the Birmingham backline, stealing possession and drawing a fine stop from Ruddy flying to his left.

He'd been excellent throughout the half, as had Burstow despite his early miss. Birmingham's back four looked uncomfortable trying to play out from the. back and the tireless work rate across the Sunderland side looked likely to create a turnover at any moment. It had been a strong, front-footed performance.


Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Unsurprisingly, Birmingham showed almost immediate signs of improvement and a lot more possession in the early stages of the second half. Whereas in the first half they had played straight into the press, now they began to find the space out wide and Koji Miyoshi between the lines.

For the most part Sunderland kept them largely at arm's length, with Patterson not having to make a save until the equaliser arrived. That came minutes after another big blow for Sunderland, with Dan Ballard finally picking up his tenth booking of the season for a trip on Tyler Roberts.

Not long after Roberts spun away in the box and fired a good drive at goal, Patterson palming it back out into the box. Hume made a superb goal line clearance to prevent an inevitable rebound but his block fell straight to the feet of Jordan James, who simply couldn't miss from a couple of yards.

Sunderland almost responded immediately when Burstow rose to head in a free kick, but the offside flag was immediately raised. The striker was then replaced a minute or to after, following a heavy challenge that left him hobbling off the pitch.


Hide Ad
Hide Ad

With around fifteen minutes of the game to play, another goal at least seemed inevitable. As you would expect of a Mowbray side, Birmingham were taking lots of risks in possession and leaving players up the pitch. It made them a real threat, but left so much space for Sunderland on the break.

The Black Cats had a big chance to make it 2-1 when Jobe ran through on goal, but he couldn't get the shot or the pass inside to Clarke away in time and the hosts were able to clear their lines. Birmingham moved up the pitch shortly after and caught Sunderland off guard with a quick free kick. Stansfield ran behind the defence and though Ballard blocked his effort, it rolled into the path of Miyoshi who tapped in from just a couple of yards.


Sunderland applied some late pressure but were unable to make it tell. With results elsewhere going firmly against them, back-to-back defeats have left them outsiders as it stands in the play-off race.

The first half hinted at the complete performance Beale has been searching for but Mowbray found the weaknesses in Sunderland's set up and they were too slow to react. The reaction to this defeat will be stinging and the pressure is again rising after that encouraging win over Plymouth.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Birmingham City XI: Ruddy, Laird, Roberts, Bielik, Drameh, Paik (Bacuna, 65), Dozzell, James, Roberts (Dembele, 65), Miyoshi, Stansfield (Jutkiewicz, 90)

Subs: Etheridge, Buchanan, Anderson, Gardner, Sunjic, Aiwu

Sunderland XI: Patterson, Hume (Hemir, 87), Ballard, O'Nien, Hjelde, Neil, Ekwah, Jobe, Mundle (Ba, 69) Clarke, Burstow (Rusyn, 69)

Subs: Bishop, Pembele, Aouchiche, Seelt, Rigg, Kelly

Bookings: Jobe, 16 Paik, 32 Laird, 61 Bielik, 71 Ba, 73 James, 76 Hume, 81

Attendance: 27,449 (2,168 away)

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.