Sunderland travelled to Barnsley with fond memories of Oakwell from the 2006/07 season when they took over 8000 fans to witness a 2-0 victory with late goals from Grant Leadbitter and David Connolly. However, the return to the home of Paul Heckingbottom's men wasn't a happy one.
The away fans creating the best atmosphere so far this season but it was another spineless and pathetic performance from Sunderland despite starting off well. James Vaughan's inability to finish would prove costly as the former Bury striker failed to test goalkeeper Adam Davies as well the £500,000 man failing to gamble on Aiden McGeady crosses. George Honeyman fluffed his lines when he could've shot but instead tried to square it for Lewis Grabban allowing the centre half to intervene.
George Moncur had the first Barnsley chance when Billy Jones lost possession inside his own half before he got away from Lee Cattermole who stupidly slid in, allowing Moncur to force a save from Robbin Ruiter who made his league debut. Barnsley eventually broke the deadlock on the half hour mark through on loan Chelsea striker Ike Ugbo. It started when Bryan Oviedo got too tight on the half way mark allowing Adam Hammill to run at Sunderland, out muscling Dider Ndong who didn't put up much of a fight. The cross was played in by the Barnsley winger but was too close to Ruiter who made a good save, only for it to fall to Ugbo who turned in past Lamine Kone's half hearted attempt to keep it out.
Not long after Harvey Barnes doubled the home side's advantage with a well struck volley past the helpless Ruiter; again Oviedo failed was exposed as he failed to close down Hammill who played in an average cross which centre half Ty Browning headed straight to Barnes who smashed it home.
Just before half time Vaughan was clean through only the goalie to beat on the edge of the area when the Barnsley centre half brought him down. He was the last man although only a yellow was shown to Liam Lindsay. McGeady's resulting free kick sailed wide.
An uneventful second half didn't see the visitors improve as a poor pass from Honeyman caught Ndong on his heels and allowed Ugbo to counter attack, the Chelsea academy loanee saw the overlap of Moncur who thrashed it high into Ruiter's net from inside the area in the top left corner. Sunderland never really had anymore chances apart from Grabban's long range effort was straight at Davies who should've caught it but instead turned over.
None of the 3 Barnsley goals could've been saved by Ruiter but could've been prevented by his defence. Oviedo was more focused on attacking and often jogged back to position when haste was required. Kone's heart wasn't in it and showed his massive ego ever since his mega money contract in August last year. Browning looks a bit inexperienced and Jones just didn't look up to it.
As for substitute Wahbi Khazri he was booed on by the visiting support, especially after he strolled up the touch line to the bench with a frothy coffee. Not only that the Tunisian refused to retrieve the balls he kicked into the net in pre-match training and insisted the coach passed him them back. Again like Kone could be game changing players but neither of them want to play for the shirt, as the fans correctly sang, both of which are just chancers with massive, inflated egos.
Sunderland's players were booed down the tunnel at full time with only McGeady holding his hands up and then a fan launched a bottle onto the pitch hitting Ruiter's foot but the Dutchman also held his hands up. Grayson said the fans have a right to show their discontent. If the Wearsiders are going to even think about promotion they need to improve in almost every area of the pitch including a striker that can finish.
Ruiter - 6, Oviedo - 5 (Matthews '81), Kone - 4, Browning - 4, Jones - 4, Honeyman - 3 (Khazri '65), Ndong - 3, Cattermole - 3, McGeady - 5, Vaughan - 3 (Gooch '55), Grabban - 3
Khazri - 2, Gooch - 4, Matthews: N/A