Sunderland come from behind to beat AFC Wimbledon and go second in League One

Lee Cattermole celebrates a goal against AFC Wimbledon.
Lee Cattermole celebrates a goal against AFC Wimbledon.

This was by far the most uncomfortable game of Sunderland's League One spell thus far, so it speaks volumes of the new found resilience in the side that they left Kingsmeadow with all three points.

Again they fought back from an early goal. Again they survived periods of intense pressure to come out on top.

They were led by the quite simply inspirational Lee Cattermole, who scored two goals and dominated the midfield while many of his colleagues struggled.

Again, swift substitutions from Jack Ross helped turn the tide of a game that was drifting away from the Black Cats.

Sunderland came close on a couple of occasions in the early stages, first when a Josh Maja cross dropped just wide of the far post.

Max Power then took a shot from range after a good move from the Black Cats, his effort flashing just wide.

Wimbledon, however, were showing their strength and power and were behind inside the opening ten minutes.

Andy Barcham stole the ball from Donald Love deep in the Sunderland half, advancing to the byline before delivering an inch-perfect cross. Joe Pigott fired home first time on the volley.

Pigott and James Hanson held the ball up well throughout the half and the Black Cats were lucky to survive an intense period of pressure.

Hanson came closest to adding a second when a long throw fell for him in the box, but his effort on the turn was blocked.

Sunderland were poor, though they did come close to an equaliser when Power again received the ball on the edge of the area. He again went for the bottom corner but just couldn't quite find the target.

Glenn Loovens was replaced by Alim Ozturk at the break, and a spell of early pressure almost forced an equaliser as Josh Maja headed a free-kick straight at Tom King in the Wimbledon goal.

Wimbledon came close with a set piece of their own shortly after, McLaughlin forced into a good save as Will Nightingale flicked a floated ball towards goal.

Unimpressed, Jack Ross made two further substitutions before the hour, with Dylan McGeouch and Bryan Oviedo brought into the action.

McGeouch began to help Sunderland control the tempo of the game better and they were unfortunate that when they built an attack down the right flank, a cross from Maja just evaded Chris Maguire as he raced into box.

Sunderland were enjoying their best spell of the game and the pressure eventually told when Lynden Gooch's cross was turned in at the back post by the excellent Lee Cattermole.

The goal was given after deliberation between the referee and linesman as to whether the midfielder had strayed offside.

Wimbledon felt they should have had a penalty minutes later when Chris Maguire blocked a goalbound effort, the hosts convinced he handled the ball.

Their protests were away but they missed a golden opportunity to score when Deji Oshilaja fired over the bar from the following corner.

The hosts looked the most likely to steal the points but it was another tremendous intervention from Cattermole that settled the contest.

Maguire stood a glorious cross up to the back post where the midfielder struck a first time volley into the far corner.

Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; Love, Loovens (Ozturk, 45), Baldwin, James (Oviedo, 58); Cattermole, Power (McGeouch, 50), Honeyman; Maguire, Maja, Gooch Subs: Ruiter, O'Nien, Embleton, Mumba AFC Wimbledon: King; Sibbick, Oshilaja, Purrington; Pinnock, Trotter, Wordsworth; Barcham (Garratt, 85), Hanson, Pinnock (Wagstaff, 67) Subs: McDonnell, Thomas, Hartigan, McDonald, Burey Bookings: Baldwin, 41 Attendance: 4,848 (727 away)