Ethan's Report: Improved Sunderland still don't look like challenging for anything


Sunderland went into the game without a win at home in nine months, the last one coming in December against Watford. Forest had enjoyed a better start to the season, then again most teams had. 


Mark Warburton's men have looked improved from the relegation threatened team last season, especially with the flair of ex Rangers winger Barrie McKay and experienced championship journeyman Daryl Murphy who has represented both North East clubs.

Grayson made changes again after his side were battered by Sheffield United on Saturday, including Bryan Oviedo in for Brendan Galloway, Adam Matthews in for Lamine Kone - who supposedly has an injury - Lee Cattermole in for Jack Rodwell and Callum McManaman in for James Vaughan.

In yet another poor and uneventful show Sunderland started as the better team but, as usual, it lasted no longer than 20 minutes when a few half chances came and went. With nothing to report on, the game soon went flat and Sunderland resulted to the tried and untrusted long ball. Forest looked to have set up for a draw and were lapping up each lump up field with ease. 

The first half chance fell to Lewis Grabban outside the area as the on loan Bournemouth striker struck from range only for it to sail just wide. Jonny Williams was one bright spark as he burst forward and to set up the arriving McManaman, but his shot was blocked by the visitors' centre half. Just before the half time whistle, Sunderland's already limited attacking options were reduced further as Grabban was substituted due to injury and replaced by misfiring frontman Vaughan.

Second half saw an increase in chances, though they remained limited as McManaman ran through from 8 yards after a clever one-two but he could only get minimal contact on his shot and consequently it was a easy enough save for keeper Jordan Smith. Left back Oviedo then went on a run and was allowed a free shot from range but the Costa Rican only managed to rattle the side netting. 

Didier Ndong then created space for George Honeyman to shoot but the Prudhoe born attacker had his shot charged down on the edge of the area. The rebound landed to Willams who unleashed an absolute thunderbolt first time only to miss agonisingly. For a moment Sunderland fans had memories of Williams' international colleague David Vaughan who scored a similar shot in the same goal against Blackburn back in 2011. 

Tyias Browning denied Barrie McKay from opening the scoring with a last ditch challenge denying the Scottish substitute. Unfortunately for Browning, minutes later he attempted to play a routine pass to his full back Matthews, who was surprisingly good, but he misplaced the pass a full eight yards and on a plate for winger McKay. He continued his good start as he set up former Sunderland striker Murphy who slotted it past the goalie Ruiter 5 minutes from time. 

McKay came close for the visitors again as his long range strike was narrowly wide. Sunderland nearly bagged a late equaliser with a flurry of chances in injury time in which goalkeeper Ruiter came up for the two set pieces; unfortunately not being able to replicate the goalscoring heroics of Mart Poom. Vaughan and Wilson having chances at the end but in the end it was too little too late.

Ultimately it was an improvement from the defeat at home to the Blades but still not in any shape to challenge higher up the league. Honestly I cannot see Sunderland ripping up any trees any time soon, especially not with just one fit striker who has limited ability.

Ratings:

Ruiter: 4, Oviedo: 6, Browning: 3, Wilson: 4, Matthews: 6, Honeyman: 4, Ndong: 4, Cattermole: 4 (Jones 90+2), McManaman: 6 (Gooch '72), Williams: 6, Grabban: 2 (Vaughan '37)

Vaughan: 3, Gooch: 4, Jones: N/A



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