This is how it played out as Sunderland fall to frustrating first Stadium of Light defeat of the campaign

Sunderland fell to their first home defeat of the League One season on a bitterly frustrating afternoon at the Stadium of Light.

Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 4:59 pm

A Jayden Stockley header in the second half proved enough for a sprited Charlton Athletic side as Sunderland laboured.

The Black Cats had plenty of openings throughout a frenetic encounter, but struggled to find the composure they need to break down their opposition.

Though tere was plenty of frustration inside the ground with some dubious officiating, Sunderland’s quality (or lack of) in the final third ultimately proved their undoing.

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Jayden Stockley heads Sunderland into the lead

Having sacked Nigel Adklins from his post during the week Charlton unsurprisingly started like a team with a point to prove.

Johnnie Jackson had made a number of changes to his side, including restoring former Black Cat George Dobson to midfield. Their strategy was to press high and aggressively, but once Sunderland adjusted they began to find some openings with a more direct approach.

Dennis Cirkin was the first to benefit, bursting into the box from deep and drawing a decent stop from Craig MacGillivray.

Moments later they went even closer, an opportunitistic and excellent early free kick from inside his own half seeing Luke O’Nien spring Aiden O’Brien clear. The Irishman turned inside his marker well, but the effort was too close to the Charlton goalkeeper who was again able to palm away. This time he pushed it into a dangerous area, but the ball ran just beyond Stewart.

If that gave the Black Cats hope, then Charlton’s attacking approach began to reset the balance.

With Jonathan Leko particularly lively down the right they began to find space on the break, and had a couple of half chances from set plays as both Sam Lavelle and Conor Washington missed from just inside the box.

Both teams were playing with intent, and the tempo of the game was high throughout the first half.

Both, though, were just finding their final ball lacking and the one time Leko was able to delier an excellent cross from the right, both Pearce and Stockley were unable to connect despite being unmarked at the back post.

Pearce was on for Lavelle, an injury blow for the visitors midway through the half.

After that poor spell Sunderland began to reassert themselves before the break, beginning to dominate possession. Off the ball Charlton were quickly dropping deep and in large numbers, and though they were opened up regularly that final bit of quality was just missing.

A frustrating period was summed up when an excellent move down the right released Winchester on the overlap, but his firm low cross from the byline ran clear as no one gambled inide the box.

The Black Cats drew another solid stop from MacGillivray just before the break, Stewart’s volley palmed clear after Tom Flanagan made the first connection on a good corner from Alex Pritchard.

Sunderland looked dangerous, but went into the break needing just a touch more quality and composure.

The second half, though, started in much the same vein.

The Black Cats forged a good opening when Stewart made another good run into the channel, but his ball inside was fired well over the bar from a promising position by McGeady.

At the other end the hosts had a major let off when Leko fired a good cross to the back post, Purrington somehow diverting his effort away from goal despite being little more than two yards out and entirely unmarked.

Johnson’s side responded with their best effort yet, Pritchard released into the channel by another good early free kick from deep. His low cross found Cirkin as the full back broke into the box, and his excellent first-time effort crashed off the crossbar.

Charlton were undeterred, forcing the opener in their best spell of the game.

Sunderland were lucky to survive a goalmouth scramble when Lee saw his effort blocked at close range, but had no such luck minutes later when a cross was whipped in from the right flank.

Stockley rose to meet it and though O’Nien tried to use his hand to turn it away on the line, the ball dropped over.

There was initial confusion with the referee seemingly undecided as to whether Stockley had committed a foul in the build up, but after a long delay the goal was awarded.

Johnson immediately responded with a double substitution and twice went close, first when Stewart’s close-range effort was blocked and then when Dajaku gathered an excellent McGeady pass, turning away from his marker and firing just over the bar.

Sunderland unsurprisingly dominated both territory and possession through the final ten minutes, but in truth they were unable to force another save of note from MacGillivray.

Charlton were able to effectively run the clock down and keep the hosts at bay, who found that search for the moment of quality they needed ultimately elusive.

A third defeat of the season for Johnson’s side.

Sunderland XI: Hoffmann; Winchester, Flanagan, Doyle, Cirkin; Neil (Evans, 79), O’Nien; O’Brien (Gooch, 70), Pritchard (Dajaku, 70), McGeady; Stewart

Subs: Burge, Evans, Alves, Wright, Hume

Charlton Athletic XI: MacGillivray; Matthews, Lavelle (Pearce 31), Famewo, Purrington; Gilbey, Dobson; Leko (Jaiyesimi, 90), Washington, Lee (Clare, 79); Stockley

Subs: Henderson, Pearce, Blackett-Taylor, Davison, Watson, Clare

Bookings: Dobson, 43 Flanagan, 66 Purrington, 83 Evans, 89

Attendance: 31, 833

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