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Sunderland 1 Wigan Athletic 1: match report
Published : 06 Feb 2010 17:14:36
Kenwyne Jones came to Sunderland manager Steve Bruce's rescue at the Stadium of Light. Jones came up with a second-half equaliser to ensure that Bruce was spared a repeat of the boos from Sunderland supporters that had greeted half-time when his team seemed to be heading to defeat. Sunderland 2 Blackburn Rovers 1: match reportWatched by club owner Ellis Short, Sunderland's sequence of games without a win was stretched to 11 games but it could have been a lot worse for Bruce as his team's relegation worries increased when Mohamed Diame put fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic ahead in spectacular fashion. Jones' goal showed why Bruce was so keen to keep him out of Liverpool's clutches during the January transfer window and at last justified his £50,000-a-week wages with a potentially priceless point for a club on the slide towards a third successive relegation battle. Sunderland began brightly, as they went in search of their first win since November, and Darren Bent should have put his side ahead early on when he span Titus Bramble, following debutant Alan Hutton's clever pass, but shot straight at Chris Kirkland. The Sunderland goal was soon under threat as James McCarthy avoided Hutton's attentions down Wigan's left flank before picking out the marauding Paul Scharner, only for the Austrian to miskick with just Craig Gordon to beat. There was another hairy moment for Gordon when former Sunderland target Maynor Figueroa let fly with a volley from 35 yards only to see the ball sail just over as the Scotland international flapped. Bruce's jittery team have a habit of surrendering possession, due to a chronic lack of composure, and that weakness was exploited in spectacular fashion when Diame dispossessed Lorik Cana in midfield, skipping round Matthew Kilgallon before unleashing a powerful rising shot that flashed past Gordon to become a goal of the month contender. That blow silenced the home supporters and the eeriness provided the cue for visiting fans to taunt former Wigan manager Bruce with a rendition of 'You're getting sacked in the morning'. Wigan enjoyed the upper hand because their midfield trio of Scharner, Diame and Hendry Thomas outnumbered and outplayed combative Sunderland counterparts Lee Cattermole and Cana. That pair were peripheral as Sunderland resorted to the long-ball-into-the-channels option to Bent and Kenwyne Jones, but in Titus Bramble and Caldwell they found resilient adversaries. Jones, though, almost equalised for Sunderland when he galloped away from Diame before seeing his shot deflected onto the outside of Kirkland's post by the outstretched Figueroa. Cattermole did his best to regain the initiative for Sunderland when he linked up with Jones and Bent and tried his luck from 25 yards, but Kirkland tipped over. Sunderland upped the ante after the break and pushed forward with much more purpose down the left flank thanks to Andy Reid and George McCartney. Bent thought he had equalised when he rounded Kirkland and slotted the ball in following Jones' pass, but was denied by an offside flag. Sunderland lived dangerously at the back and James McCarthy was denied by Gordon with the goal at his mercy. Chances came and went for Sunderland's Michael Turner following Henderson's excellent cross, and then Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia, before the equaliser arrived. Henderson was the architect, sending over a delicious cross that saw Jones outjump captain Bramble to nod the ball beyond Kirkland in the 64th minute for his seventh goal this season. Sunderland had gained head of steam but lost momentum when Henderson was taken off on a stretcher following a meaty challenge by Bramble. The outcome means that both Sunderland and Wigan will have to look over their shoulders anxiously at the relegation zone with Bruce's side needing to raise their game for upcoming visits to Portsmouth on Tuesday and then Arsenal in a fortnight.