Sunderland AFC's search for a win at the Stadium of Light continues, as a second-half effort from Milan Đurić secured a narrow 2-1 win for Bristol City on Wearside.
It was positive start to proceedings for The Black Cats with good chances for John O'Shea and Lewis Grabban but failed to materialise a goal, things looked good for the home side as they half went on until they fell behind to Bobby Reid's headed effort in the 28th minute. Lee Johnson's side looked to be heading in at the break a goal ahead until Grabban managed to get one back in extra-time.
The second period took a while to get going but when it did it was the visitors who looked the most switched on, Callum O'Dowda and Aden Flint produced decent opportunities but it was the 72nd minute effort from Đurić that saw all three points head back down south.
Things looking on the up
Despite the doom and gloom on Wearside there was a sense of optimism at the Stadium of Light pre-match as fans hoped for three points on home soil for the first time in nearly a year, and it was a good start from Simon Grayson's side with half chances for both Bryan Oviedo and Didier Ndong but it was the skipper that came closest inside ten minutes.
Aiden McGeady's cross was well met by O'Shea who initially headed into the back of the defender, but the Irishman was quick to get a second bite of the cherry from close-range but the slightest deflection took it over Frank Fielding's crossbar.
Grabban has yet to really kick-start his career in a Sunderland shirt after his summer loan move from AFC Bournemouth having scored three goals thus far, but he came very close to a fourth in the 20th minute. The striker did excellently to pluck Duncan Watmore's pass out of the air and looked to chip the forthcoming Fielding, but the striker's aim was just off as it bounced wide of the mark.
Going ahead against the run of play
Nobody will have blamed Bristol City for taking it easy early on considering their efforts in the Carabao Cup midweek to knock out Premier League side Crystal Palace, but with their first real opportunity of the game they managed to draw first blood.
It was poor from a Sunderland prospective as the corner was swung in towards the back post, there lurking unmarked was Reid who did well to head the ball into the ground which Jason Steele had no chance of stopping.
Getting one back right at the death
Despite falling behind the home side didn't let their heads down as they pushed on for an equaliser as the half drew to a close and Darron Gibson nearly managed to find the breakthrough, the corner in was cleared only as far as the Irishman who adhered to the cries of shoot as he let rip from the edge of the area.
It looked to be coming to nothing until a deflection had Fielding scrambling across his line to prevent it going in. It made its way to Ndong who decided to have a go, his effort looked to strike the hand of the substitute Eros Pisano but the cries of handball fell on the deaf ears of referee Darren Day.
Grayson's side continued to push their opponents as the first period entered added on time, and were rewarded as they managed to get a goal back right at the death. McGeady fizzed a ball in from the left which forced Fielding to parry and ignite a goalmouth scramble, The Black Cats continued to push as the Billy Jones managed to push the ball to Grabban who fired home from close-range.
Starting to go up gear
After a high octane first 45 minutes it will have been disappointing for the 27,000-plus fans inside the Stadium of Light to see the beginning of the second period fall flat like a led balloon, as the first real chances didn't arise until 20 minutes before the end.
The Reds had rarely troubled despite taking the lead and they came up with the first real chance of the second period, it was excellent work from O'Dowda to make the determined run towards goal. He looked to be fouled by Jones but Day waved play on as O'Dowda crept closer, a fine piece of skill took him past O'sShea and opened space to shoot but Steele did well to tip it over.
Another chance arose almost instantaneously as Reid looked to turn provider, he did well to the ball up inside the area before laying it off to Flint but what he produced was certainly a shot of a defender as it was well wide of the mark.
Taking all the points back down south
Johnson's side were looking increasingly dangerous and were rewarded for their persistence with the winning goal, once again it was poor from the home side as Lamine Kone allowed O'Dowda all the time in the world to float a ball into the back post and it was easy enough for Đurić to rise above O'Shea and nod home.