Blackpool 1 Sunderland 0: Automatic promotion hopes in tatters after third defeat in a week
Sunderland’s automatic promotion hopes look to be as good as over as they fell to a third defeat in a week at Blackpool.
The game swung in two defining second-half minutes, a deflected effort leaving the Black Cats trailing just moments after Aiden McGeady had struck the post.
There was little in the contest overall but Sunderland could not produce the quality required to break down a defence that has been in impressive form over recent months.
Though they saw plenty of the ball in the final exchanges, Chris Maxwell was barely tested as Lee Johnson’s side once again laboured in search of goals.
Two defeats in a row had perhaps unsurprisingly seen Johnson go back to a more tried and tested starting XI, Aiden O’Brien joining Wyke up front as Sunderland matched Blackpool’s 4-4-2.
It was perhaps also no great surprise that the first half saw some good football played without too many major chanes, the two sides both possessing threats out wide and some poinse in the middle of the park.
Grant Leadbitter’s return in particular looked to have settled Sunderland, who came through a couple of dangerous early crosses into their box to take a reasonable level of control over the contest.
They almost opened up a resilient backline when Leadbitter sprung Jordan Jones free with a pass over the top, but the winger stumbled just as he was preparing to shoot.
Blackpool missed by far the best chance of the half moments later, Simms blazing over the bar from inside the box after the visitors were caught in possession.
Johnson was urging his side to be more aggressive and though they saw more and more of the ball as the half developed, chances were at a premium. Blackpool goalkeeper Chris Maxwell was superbly protected by his centre-halves, who cleared countless balls into the box with little danger.
The Black Cats started the second half brightly but the pendulum swung in those two minutes just before the hour mark.
McGeady’s effort from the left of the the area hit the inside of the far post, with Blackpool sweeping up the other end just moments later.
A speculative drive from the left struck Bailey Wright, Burge unable to react in time as the ball crept over the line.
The deflation in the Sunderland ranks was evident, and it took them time to find any kind of composure afterwards. They did force another superb intervention from Ballard fifteen minutes before the end, the Arsenal loanee clearing an effort from O’Nien off the line after Maxwell had dropped a cross at his feet.
The away side had been hugely fortunate minutes earlier when McFadzean avoided a second yellow for a trip near his own box.
Sunderland did throw bodies forward in search of an equaliser but once again their efforts yielded little in the way of clear cut chances.