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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: SUNDERLAND (AWAY)

26 November 2019

LIAM Boyce's eighth goal of the season ensured that the Brewers recorded another stunning victory at the Stadium of Light as they came from behind to win 2-1 just as they did two seasons ago at the same ground.

Boyce struck midway through the second half completing an impressive turnaround from a Burton side who recovered quickly from going a goal down after nineteen minutes to Aiden McGeady's ruthlessly efficient penalty. Crucially Ryan Edwards capped another hugely energetic performance with the equaliser just two minutes later, heading into the empty net after home keeper Lee Burge had parried Kieran Wallace's fierce effort.

The timing was crucial as Sunderland's poor recent run of results suggested they needed a confidence boost and the, perhaps harsh, penalty had handed them an opportunity to exert some control over a game they had not looked particularly convincing in early on.

For long periods it was Albion getting the ball down and playing, forcing mistakes and to the chagrin of the home support forcing the home side to play backwards at times when they needed to be looking forwards. The victory owed much to the Brewers organisation with keeper Kieran O'Hara rarely tested but when he was called upon having all of the answers to blunt a tame Sunderland attack.

After the disappointment of the last gasp defeat at Peterborough Brewers boss Nigel Clough made just two changes for the trip to the Stadium Of Light. John Brayford and David Templeton rested knocks and made the bench which allowed Boyce and Jake Buxton to come into the starting eleven. Brayford's omission meant a switch to right back for the versatile Richard Nartey whilst Boyce's inclusion came as one of the wide options supporting Lucas Akins in attack. Interesting Sunderland's two ex-Brewers - goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin and defender Tom Flanagan found themselves only amongst the substitutes against their former employers.

The game sprung to life, certainly for the Brewers, on eleven minutes when Akins drifted out wide to pick up possession but was soon driving into space inside the box before driving low for the far corner, a deflection off a Sunderland defender taking it just out of the reach of Oliver Sarkic but also just wide of the far post.

On the wide expanses of the Stadium Of Light pitch it was Albion playing some tidy passing football and they almost capitalised from an extra man, temporarily, when Boyce's challenge on Conor McLaughlin overturned possession and allowed a counter. McLaughlin stayed down and it was Boyce who found the space on the right to cut inside and fire at Lee Burge's near post.

Sunderland found their attacking mojo and got themselves into the lead on nineteen minutes in slightly fortunate circumstances. A low cross in from the left was cleared by O'Toole but came back quickly at him and in his haste to complete the clearance was adjudged to have brought down Luke O'Nien. McGEADY stepped up to fire home from the spot.

But Albion were only behind for two minutes. Wallace found himself inside the box on the end of Boyce's neat pass and the space opened up for him to test Burge. The left back's shot was only parried though and EDWARDS was on hand to head home into the empty net.

The biggest threat for the home side appeared to be Duncan Watmore who was mainly being deployed on the right hand side. On the half hour mark he managed to find himself free to get the ball onto his left foot inside the box where O'Hara made an unconventional save to keep the scores level.

Albion then had an excellent chance to go ahead when some probing passing around the edge of the box eventually lured the Sunderland defence out of position to allow Fraser to slip Boyce in. The striker took a steadying touch before trying to rifle the ball high into Burge's net but this time the keeper was equal to it.

The home side began to get up a head of steam as half time drew closer but O'Hara was smartly across to dent Denver Hume with an effort off the outside of his boot from just inside the box as Albion briefly struggled to clear their lines.

It was the last action of a tight half where goal chances were clearly at a premium but Albion were certainly good value for being level and perhaps should have been ahead.

Half time: Sunderland 1-1 Burton Albion

It was the home side who started the brighter after the break and they built a spell of pressure after Stephen Quinn had been yellow carded on 50 minutes. His challenge seemed to win the ball but referee Rob Lewis didnt like the fact that his follow through seemed to catch his man.

Akins soon had Albion back on the front foot with a driving run that took him across the pitch before the space opened up for a low skidding shot back across the goal and wide of the far post.

Sarkic followed him into the book for a show of dissent when Lewis played on despite Buxton clearly being down after a blow to the head and Sunderland played on with a rasping drive from O'Nien going not far over. Albion players were incensed and Sarkic was perhaps the most vehement to earn himself a place in the book.

Sunderland sensed a breakthrough might be close and O'Hara had to be on his toes to save from O'Nien when McGeady's low cross out found him in the centre of the box and with time to turn and shoot.

Sarkic was withdrawn from the action on 65 minutes with Clough turning to Templeton to try and create something to try and swing the game back in Albion's direction.

But when Albion grabbed the lead on 68 minutes it was Albion's other Scot that created the opening as Fraser worked his way down the left before crossing for BOYCE to steer it home from 8 yards out.

Suddenly Albion were all over their confidence-shot hosts and Fraser and Boyce almost cut them open again as Fraser tried to stay onside and then Boyce found a peach of a cross that Akins met at the near post but couldnt quite steer inside the upright.

Nartey was suddenly down on the half way line and his game was over on 71 minutes as Colin Daniel entered proceedings forcing Akins to cover right back whilst Daniel slotted in on the left hand side of midfield.

83 minutes in and it should all have been put to bed. Edwards did superbly to wriggle free of a challenge on the bye line and find Templeton. The winger resisted the chance to shoot with Fraser coming up to support and his rising effort smacked against the crossbar to leave the midfielder with his head in his hands.

Boyce, after another incredible shift, got a breather at the end with Akins moving back up top as Brayford was introduced for the closing minutes. In the end, though, Albion saw out the remaining minutes, including four added on for stoppages and never really looked like conceding as Sunderland lacked the confidence and belief to break them down and the home side's unbeaten record in the League on their home patch had gone for the proverbial 'Burton'.

It was the perfect tonic after Saturday's disappointment but now thoughts turn to the FA Cup and whether Albion can end the week on another high.

 


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