Wigan 1 SAFC 1: Gyan’s magic not quite enough

In the end, it was a disappointing result because, having shot ourselves in a foot now riddled with self-inflicted bullet wounds, we’d put ourselves in a winning position. But to gain a draw when forced to play with 10 men for three quarters of the game, as Pete Sixsmith says in his one-line verdict elsewhere, shows character …

Asamaoh Gyan cost an awful lot of money. He repaid a small chunk of it with a finish of delightful aplomb after magnificent play on the right from Jordan Henderson.

It was against the run of play. After the early dismissal of Lee Cattermole – of which more later – it had taken Simon Mignolet’s saves and confident handling to keep us level early in the second half after a first 45 minutes with little action at either end.
But Henderson used excellent skill to make acres of space for himself before sending over a wonderful cross which Gyan – who otherwise looked well below matchfit -finished in style with his left foot.

Sadly Mignolet was finally beaten with a few minutes of normal time to go when a shot going nowhere was headed past him by a man I had much earlier heard Nick Barnes, on BBC Radio Newcastle, identify as Alcatraz but is actually called Alcaraz.

And we did it with 10 men.

Make immediate allowance for the ridiculous harshness of the first Lee Cattermole booking.

Then remember that a man given the responsibility of Sunderland’s team captaincy is presumably aware that having been booked, he must now take care to avoid rash tackles or general indiscipline.

So what did Cattermole do a few minutes later but make a rash tackle showing general indiscipline?

And off, for the second time in a season so young and in which he has played little part, he went.

Andre Marriner may be Graham Poll’s favourite ref; he certainly isn’t mine and showed lamentable inconsistency later in failing to produce a second yellow for a second yellow offence by the same Wigan player (before awarding a dangerous free kick for a good, ball-winning Richardson tackle and maybe even missing a handball in the box that might have doubled our lead).

But having acted with unnecessary severity to award Cattermole’s first yellow, he had no choice but to show the card again, and then a red, when the midfielder launched into his no-hope tackle to bring down Hugo Rodallega just outside our box after 23 minutes.

The first thing that needs to happen is loss of the captaincy, a role for which he is quite obviously showing insufficient maturity at this stage of his career.

And the second is a reminder to Steve Bruce, from above, of the responsibility he shoulders in persuading the players of Sunderland AFC to stop what has become an embarrassing threat to our ambition as a club.

We didn’t actually play that badly in the first half – though nor were we playing well, even before the sending off – but the stats tell the true story: one shot on target for us, none off; eight off target for Wigan, none on.

Despite the numerical imbalance, I said at half time we could go on to get something out this game since the balance of play suggested anything could happen. Malbranque had an excellent game; Mensah made important tackles when he came on late for Richardson, who’d also done fairly well until his injury (and who was absolutely right to be furious that Mensah was not immediately ready to replace him).

A draw was fair. But how close we got to three away points.

And how difficult we make things for ourselves.

Colin Randall

7 thoughts on “Wigan 1 SAFC 1: Gyan’s magic not quite enough”

  1. Well said Rob. Mignolet was absolutely superb. His handling was out of this world. Soft hands on powerful strikes.

    The lad is going to take some shifting when Gordon gets fit. There’s no way that he can be left out in my opinion. The push to just edge the ball away from the striker’s feet was absolute text book stuff. Top class. He has the potential to be the best keeper that we’ve ever had.

  2. Taken some time to reflect on it and looked at the replays on football first. Feel sympathy for Lee Cattermole despite what everyone else thinks.

  3. Well said Bill. Christian Riveros and Jordan Henderson look like our best Central Midfield pairing. Riveros was ab excellent defensive midfielder in the world cup and I was grateful that he was a Sunderland player.

    Lee Cattermole is still young so maybe we can allow him a mistake (or 2) BOTH this season!!! And he is a local lad. But not a patch on Jordan Henderson at all. Jordan was immense today (helped by Steed’s performance).

    Next week against Arsenal we will be forced to play Riveros – Henderson in central midfield. I will be looking closely at the injury sustained by Kieran Richardson and if he cannot play at left back I would expect Anton to play there. I thought Anton Ferdinand played ok today but Bramble was the most infuential defender. And Mignolet = He was brilliant. What a buy.

  4. Jeremy and I thought Gyan might score today. Lovely to see that happen and a good omen, surely, for the future. Not nearly as lovely to see my semi-prediction about Cattermole come true. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s worth keeping or if maybe we should be putting him on offer come January. If I were Bruce, I’d be putting him on probation between now and then and taking the captaincy away from him.

  5. Couldn’t agree more. Excellent goal though. Am I biased or was the second half challenge by Steve Gohouri on Christian Riveros a yellow card offence? Given the way yellow cards were being dished out in the first half I would have expected some of the Wigan tackles in the second to have warranted more.

    That makes 4 nail biting games so far this season. But, we did better than some other teams today.

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