What Sunderland's coaching team told Nathan Broadhead, Lee Johnson fan chants plus ex-Norwich man still has it: Moments you may have missed at Cambridge United
Persistent rain, strong winds and a sold-out away ground. Sunderland battled through the challenging conditions to claim a much-needed three points at Cambridge – and there was plenty to discuss.
Lee Johnson’s side are back upto fifth in League One and just three points off leaders Rotherham, with a game in hand.
After a testing few weeks, the Black Cats have now picked up seven points from their last three matches – even if a 1-1 draw against 10-man Shrewsbury side felt like a defeat.
Sunderland made sure history didn’t repeat itself here, though, after Cambridge’s Sam Smith cancelled out Alex Pritchard’s opener, before Nathan Broadhead scored a stunning winner in the 36th minute.
Here are some of the moments you may have missed.
Extra shooting pays off
Practise makes perfect. That was certainly the case at the Abbey Stadium.
Broadhead’s strike was surely a contender for goal of the season and came after some additional shooting work in the warm-up.
After practicing their finishing with the rest of the team, Broadhead and strike partner Ross Stewart were taken to one side by Sunderland coach Phil Jevons to try out some shooting drills from outside the box. The pair were clearly told to try their luck from distance when the opportunities arose.
Obviously it is one thing performing in the warm-up and another doing it in a match situation, but Broadhead showed his quality to score his first league goal of the season.
Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.
Lee Johnson fan chants
Pressure has been growing on Johnson in recent weeks, with fans voicing their concerns on social media.
Yet supporters inside the stadiums, home and away, have largely stuck with the team during a rocky period.
When the full-time whistle went at Cambridge the relief shown by the players was palpable, with several raising their arms aloft following a bruising encounter.
The travelling Sunderland fans, 2,561 of them, showed their appreciation as the players left the pitch, and there were chants of ‘Lee Johnson’s red and white army’ when the Black Cats boss went over to applaud their support.
Ex-Norwich man still has it
Some Sunderland fans may have been surprised to see a 39-year-old Wes Hoolahan on the Cambridge team sheet.
The former Republic of Ireland international rarely plays two games in a week but returned to the starting XI following the U’s 2-2 draw with Wigan on Tuesday.
Still, Hoolahan was Cambridge’s biggest threat and produced some excellent pieces of skill to keep Sunderland’s defenders on their toes.
Hoolahan was the instigator of Cambridge’s equaliser when he drew Callum Doyle out of the visitors’ backline before sending a quick pass around the centre-back.
Seconds later, Hoolahan arrived in the box before drawing Tom Flanagan and Dan Neil towards him, allowing Smith to level the scores.
Age is only a number.
Niall Huggins’ appearance
Sunderland’s injury list is growing and clearly Johnson will need some players back as soon as possible.
It was therefore encouraging to see Niall Huggins still involved with the group, as the full-back was seen walking on the pitch with his team-mates ahead of the match.
Huggins is still expected to be sidelined until the new year with a back issue, yet it appears his rehab is going well.