Sunderland AFC 0-1 Norwich City
Sunderland suffered narrow defeat on Saturday afternoon in their Sky Bet Championship clash with Norwich City, as the Canaries came through with a 1-0 win.
Josh Sargent converted the decisive goal in the second half, as the Lads were left to rue missed chances.
Assistant Head Coach Martin Canning, alongside Mike Dodds, Michael Proctor and Alessandro Barcherini took the side on the day at the Stadium of Light.
There were two changes to the starting XI which took all three points from Stoke City last weekend, as Dan Neil returned from suspension to replace Elliot Embleton, and captain Corry Evans came back into the line-up in place of Jay Matete.
The Lads began on the front foot in the Wearside sun and came closest in the first half through Neil’s effort, after a well-worked corner routine with Alex Pritchard.
Corry Evans also struck a firmly hit volley from outside the box which forced Norwich to intervene with a block, and Lynden Gooch’s effort deflected over.
At the other end, Sargent passed up the best of the Canaries’ first-half sniffs at goal – improvising with a close-range shot wide after Luke O’Nien intervened enough to misdirect the forward.
As the first 45 minutes came to a close, the Lads turned up the pressure further and if not for crucial blocks from Grant Hanley and Marcelino Nunez, Evans and Ross Stewart looked certain to put the side in front as the half ended goalless.
The second half began with the same tenacity from Sunderland, who went on to create two golden chances 10 minutes after the interval as Stewart struck the bar from close range, before Alex Pritchard’s rebound was blocked on the line by Hanley.
Neil tested Krul down to his right with a 20-yard strike, before Sargent whipped a shot over the bar as the visitors broke forward.
Norwich boss Dean Smith pulled out a treble trump card on the hour mark as Teemu Pukki, Todd Cantwell and Aaron Ramsey entered the fray, Ramsey seeing a strike blocked well by O’Nien, but the Lads continued to create more and hit the woodwork for a second time with 20 to play as Ellis Simms’ header ricocheted back off the left-hand post.
The introduction of Ramsey persisted to be a thorn in Sunderland’s side, and the deadlock was broken with 14 minutes to go as he got away down the left-hand side, fizzing a low ball across to leave Sargent with a simple tap-in.
The arrivals of Embleton and Patrick Roberts late on saw the Lads look for a revival, but Norwich were able to hold on to head back to Norfolk with the points.
SUNDERLAND AFC: Patterson, Gooch, Batth, O’Nien, Cirkin, Evans © (Roberts 87’), Neil, Pritchard (Embleton 77’), Clarke, Simms, Stewart.
Subs not used: Bass, Alese, Wright, Diamond, Hume.
Norwich City: Krul, Aarons, Omobamidele, Hanley, McLean, Dowell (Ramsey 60’), Gibbs (Byram 19’), Nunez, Sinani (Pukki 60’), Hernandez (Cantwell 60’), Sargent.
Subs not used: Gunn, Sara, Gibson.