Sunderland 1 Wigan Athletic 1
Sunderland 1 Wigan Athletic 1 AS Alan Hutton walked off the field at half-time, his new team 1-0 down to fellow-strugglers Wigan Athletic, the Scotland international was left in no doubt that the home fans' mood was turning ugly. Steve Bruce will have sold the right-back his dream for the club when he persuaded the 25-year-old to agree a loan switch from Spurs to Sunderland last week. By 3.50pm on Saturday, Hutton had been exposed to the reality of life at the Stadium of Light. On the evidence of their showing in the opening period Sunderland looked like sure-fire candidates for relegation this season. Hutton must have felt a very long way from Tottenham. The crowd's anger was not directed at the Scot. Following a jittery start, the player who joined Spurs from Rangers in a £9m deal two years ago, enjoyed an assured debut and his ability to link with Jordan Henderson eventually helped level the scores. But the home faithful have become well-versed in noting the signs of a team in free-fall. Bruce's players, who could have been 3-0 down at the break, were a shambles and the fans roundly booed their team's pitiful efforts. The latest centre-half pairing of Matt Kilgallon and Michael Turner lacked composure while Lorik Cana and Lee Cattermole were a shadow of the midfield enforcers who out-battled Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United earlier in the campaign. But a much improved performance in the second half almost secured Sunderland their first victory since November 21. Following Jones' headed equaliser belief spread from the terraces to the pitch and the players responded. Darren Bent's late goalbound strike hit Jones who was lying prone in the visitors' area after Michael Turner had gone close with a flicked header. Sunderland still lacked quality but at least they showed some fight. Hutton reckoned the fans' angry response helped kickstart Sunderland's recovery. Getting booed does not give me any problems,'' he insisted. They pay their money and they are entitled to a performance. You just have to show them exactly what you can do. Personally it spurs me on because I want to show people what I can do and that is what we all did in the second half. On the basis of their spirited fight back, Hutton insists that the gulf between Harry Redknapp's side and his new employers is not as great as the Premier League table would suggest. I think the squads at Spurs and here are relatively the same, I just think we are on a poor run, claimed Hutton, who is expected to start at Portsmouth tomorrow night. There are quality players here, as there were at Spurs but they have had a bad run of results. Maybe heads are down a wee bit. We can build on the second half and take it from there. No one wants to get drawn into a relegation battle. There is no doubt we have some quality players here. If we work hard I am sure that we can start getting some wins under our belt. I know five or six of the players already and they have helped me settle in but we need a stable back four. We have a defence that has chopped and changed like none I've seen in football 15 combinations in 23 games which is incredible. We have been nervy and hesitant at times. We will get it right.'' Bruce also admitted that his team's winless run has left them edgy. The crowd's frustrations are contributing to the players' nervous disposition. Club chairman Niall Quinn, in his programme notes, asked the fans to use their voices to help haul the players out of the mire rather than add to their demise. Quinn noted: Once we get a win under our belts I'm sure we will see people playing at their best again and the players will play with a swagger. At the moment that swagger is not apparent, but I know it is just around the corner. We all hoped at the start of the season that we'd have a comfortable year, well the reality is that we can't. We have to knuckle down. People can give it out and that's fine. If any Sunderland fan think they are doing themselves or the club a favour by putting more pressure on the situation that's for them to decide. But having been there and done it I know the best thing is when everybody gets behind the team because that helps the team get their confidence back and turn the corner. Let's do that together and get ourselves up the league. Match facts Goals: 0-1: Diame (20, shrugged off Cana and Kilgallon to power home a rising drive; 1-1: Jones (64, headed down Henderson's hanging right wing cross) Bookings: Figueroa (42, foul), McCartney (44, foul), N'Zogbia (59, dissent), Cattermole (76, foul), Rodallega (79, foul), McCarthy (84, foul), Jones (85, foul), Caldwell (90, time-wasting), Cana (90, foul) Referee: Stuart Attwell (Nuneaton): Too many yellow cards, not enough communication 4 Attendance: 38,350 Entertainment: SUNDERLAND (4-4-2): 6 Gordon: Made a vital stop in first half to deny McCarthy, pretty solid throughout; 6 Hutton: Impressive going forward but shaky on the ball in the first half 4 Turner: More intent on clearing his lines than bringing calm to the back-four 4 Kilgallon: Needs to adapt quickly to the pace of Premier League football 4 McCartney: Made a couple of surging runs but remains suspect at the back; 6 Henderson: Great cross for the goal, will be sorely missed 4 Cattermole: Dreadful first half but flashes of his old self as the game went on 4 Cana: His ten out of ten performance against Liverpool is a distant memory 4 Reid: Has lost the verve that made him such a danger man; 7 Jones: Superb finish, another committed display for his colleagues to emulate 6 Bent: Unfortunate not to score and never dropped his work rate. Subs: Zenden (for Henderson 69, added some quality to midfield) 6 Benjani (for Reid, 87) (not used): Fulop(gk), Bardsley, Da Silva, Campbell, Malbranque. WIGAN (4-5-1): Kirkland 6; BOYCE 7, Caldwell 5, Bramble 6, Figueroa 7, McCarthy 5, Scharner 5 (Moreno 74), Thomas 5, Diame 7, N'Zogbia 7, Rodallega 6 (Moses 83) (not used): Stojkovic (gk), Scotland, Gomez, Sinclair, Melchiot. MAN OF THE MATCH KENWYNE Jones his return to form could be crucial to Sunderland's survival hopes.
Related Sunderland News