This is how it played out as stunning Ellis Simms debut leads Sunderland to first win of season

Sunderland secured their first Championship win as Ellis Simms led a superb second-half fightback with a breathtaking debut.

By Phil Smith
Saturday, 6th August 2022, 5:04 pm
Updated Saturday, 6th August 2022, 5:05 pm

Simms scored twice and could have had more as Alex Neil’s side turned round a 2-1 advantage, with Ross Stewart scoring a towering back post header to secure a much-deserved win for the Black Cats.

It had been a dream start for Neil and his side, the head coach instantly and handsomely rewarded for his decision to pair Simms with Stewart up front. The hosts dithered from their own goal kick and Stewart pounced, squaring a pass for Simms whose early effort from the edge of the box was far too powerful for Bentley.

The hosts looked taken aback by the aggression from the front two, and the lead should have been doubled when Simms was played through again. The option was there to square for Stewart but he instead fired wide on his left foot.

Sunderland secured their first Championship win at Bristol City

Bristol City didn’t take long to respond. Good play down the right allowed Weimann to gather the ball in the box, and after a clever dummy shot to create space he left Patterson with no chance.

Neil had warned in the build up of City’s counter-attacking threat and for a period it looked as if his side would buckle. Dasilva made a good overlapping run from one break and ought to have done better than dragging his effort wide of the far post.

The pace of the game slowly began to drop, settling into a pattern whereby Sunderland threatened when they went early into the front two, and the hosts threatened whenever they were able to turn the ball over.

Chris Martin almost got his side ahead when his deflected effort inched towards the far corner, but Clarke did well to drop in and hack off his own line.

Sunderland dug in, and at the end of the half came back strongly. Simms had another decent opportunity when Dan Neil sprung him clear, but his weaker left foot again let him down. Before the break Pritchard saw a dangerous effort blocked, and from the following corner Bentley did superbly to palm Corry Evans’ long-range strike clear.

It was a strong end to at times frenetic half from the Black Cats.

They continued in that vein at the start of the second, increasing the frustration when they failed to deal with a routine throw in. A goalmouth scramble ensued and a combination of Batth and Martin saw the ball creep over the line and leave Sunderland with it all to do.

The response from Pritchard was magnificent, a glorious through ball moments later than sprung Simms clear. It looked as if the debutant had delayed his shot too long but at the crucial moment he caught Bentley off guard, squeezing a left-foot shot through the legs of Bentley.

He almost had his hat-trick as Sunderland stepped up the pressure, Bentley making a fine save when he met Clarke’s low cross with a first-time volley.

Not even a double-change from Pearson could turn the tide, and Sunderland had a richly-deserved lead when Clarke and Pritchard combined nicely down the left. Stewart, who had started the move by spotting the opportunity to take a quick throw-in, raced to the back post and towered above his marker to convert Pritchard’s cross.

The momentum instantly shifted, and it was last-ditch defending from there on in from Sunderland.

Dan Ballard made a superb block from Weimann, before Martin turned one wide from close range after brilliant play from Joe Williams. But Sunderland held on, much to the delight of their travelling fans.

Sunderland XI: Patterson; Ballard, Batth, Cirkin; Gooch, Evans, Neil, Clarke (Alese, 87), Pritchard (Embleton, 80); Simms (Dajaku, 90), Stewart

Subs: Bass, Dajaku, Roberts, O’Nien, Wright, Alese

Bristol City XI: Bentley; Vyner (Klose, 65), Naismith, Atkinson; Sykes (Wilson, 65) , Massengo (Conway, 76), Williams, Dasilva (Wells, 87) , Scott; Weimann, Martin

Subs: O’Leary, King, Conway, Wells,Tanner

Bookings: Evans, 1 Cirkin, 20 Williams, 27

Attendance: 24,543 (2,352 away)