Sunderland 2 Charlton Athletic 1
An opening day ending in a heartbreaking defeat but a performance built on hope, a battling spirit and a fair bit of quality. We deservedly took the lead through Lyle Taylor’s penalty and for 35 minutes Sunderland were all at sea as we played high up the pitch with Aribo dominant and the front pairing of Taylor and Grant a constant menace.
The hosts were poor but they finally got their act together as we reached half-time, but our dominance deserved a second goal and it was George Lapslie who had the best chance. A powerful Pratley shot was also well saved.
Sunderland were never going to be so bad 2nd half, but we still looked pretty comfortable, our only concerns being when one of our players went down injured and wondering who the hell from 4 on-field substitutes would replace them. It was never a dirty game, but there were lots of stoppages for injuries on both sides and both Pearce and Solly ended the game limping and bloodied.
Dillon Phillips, who had looked comfortable, should have done better as Maja equalized and after that we simply ran out of steam. A high tempo, high pressing game is great, but it’s a game that needs options from the bench and noticeably Taylor, Grant, Marshall and Page all slowed as the game wore on.
The players gave everything and Aribo and George Lapslie never stopped running but Bowyer decided, perhaps in a message to the owner, that there was no one on the bench worth bringing on. I’d liked to have seen Ajose, but no one fresh entered the field on play, not until Pearce was forced off in injury time to be replaced by Sarr.
Then in a crime movie Addicks have seen a million times before, after fluffing a last injury time minute corner, the ball was returned and Gooch scored with a header coming in at the far post. Poor marking possibly to blame, but the real culprit a wrinkly faced bastard sat in Belgium.
Addicks at the Stadium of Light: Louis Mendez
Bow: “I’m sure the owner will give us another midfielder because obviously Jake is a big part.”
Elsewhere: Barnsley laid down a marker with a 4-0 win over Karl Robinson’s Oxford. Rochdale had an excellent result at relegated Burton and Doncaster caught the eye winning 3-2 at Southend, who were 0-3 down. Portsmouth beat Luton 1-0 and Peterborough beat Bristol Rovers 2-1.
Photo credit: @K_AndrewsPhotos