Sunderland 1-0 Shrewsbury Town: Wyke header the difference for the Black Cats
(Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images )

Charlie Wyke's excellent looped header was the only goal of the game in a hard-fought victory for Sunderland against Shrewsbury Town at the Stadium of Light.

The hosts started well in the first half, but towards the end of the half and for most of the second period, Shrewsbury dominated play without getting anything to show for their efforts. 

  • Story of the game

Lee Johnson, looking for a reaction after Tuesday's wimper of a defeat to Plymouth Argyle, only made one change. Grant Leadbitter returned to the side in place of new signing Carl Winchester who struggled on Tuesday and looks like he needs to adjust to the system. 

Shrewsbury were playing their first league game of the year and only their second in all competitions after Wednesday's FA Cup tie at Southampton. They made two changes, former Sunderland defender Donald Love came in for David Davis and 35 year old Leon Clarke came in for Daniel Udoh

It was a very even start to the game, both sides were having their fair share of the ball. Shrewsbury had a couple of early free kicks but were unable to trouble Lee Burge in the Sunderland goal. Sunderland's early chance fell to Josh Scowen but he could only put his shot the wrong side of the post. 

Sunderland had an early penalty shout. In real time it looked as Aiden McGeady was fouled but on replay it was an excellent tackle. From the resulting corner the ball came out to Scowen but Josh Vela got his body in the way and stopped the effort. 

After 18 minutes they had the lead, Aiden McGeady showing his quality bursting to the byline after some quick buildup. His cross found Charlie Wyke who looped his header superbly over Matija Sarkic in the Shrewsbury goal for his 14th goal of the season and his 11th in League One

Sunderland didn't rest on their laurels and looked for a second, they had a couple of half chances but one huge one after 25 minutes. Charlie Wyke got one on one with Sarkic going round him but ending slightly wider than he planned. All it required was composure to roll it in or wait to square to Aiden O'Brien but he did neither and blasted over. 

Shrewsbury were living dangerously and nearly gifted Jack Diamond a goal. A loose pass wasn't dealt with by Williams and Diamond was in, Sarkic did well to rush out and make it difficult for Sunderland's number 21. Diamond gathered the ball on the right hand side and had a shooting opportunity but chose to cross for Wyke but it was just overhit and sailed out for a goal kick. 

While the hosts were wondering how it was only 1-0, they were nearly caught napping. Lee Burge with a poor kick straight to Harry Chapman. He picks out Leon Clarke in the box, the veteran striker has time to pick his spot but stabs over the bar with the goal at his mercy. 

Clearly encouraged by their missed opportunity they started to play. It took a great headed interception from Bailey Wright to stop Joe Whalley but the loose ball falls to former Black Cat Donald Love who can only blaze over from close range. 

Former Middlesbrough academy product Harry Chapman came closest for the visitors after 40 minutes. He weaves past Jordan Willis and Bailey Wright into the box, his shot hits Burge's shoulder and ends up in the side netting. 

Going into half time both sides will have had mixed feelings. Sunderland had been great going forward, creating numerous chances but just couldn't find the second goal they deserved. 

For Shrewsbury, they just didn't get started for a long period of the half. Once they did, they looked dangerous and should have been at least level. Their tails would have been up going into the second half, they were in the game and that would have worried Lee Johnson. 

Shrewsbury came out and as to be expected they were clearly more confident than in the first. Sunderland nearly cancelled it out early in the half. A deep free kick by Grant Leadbitter found the head of Wright but he could only head over.  

Apart from that, the hosts never really got started in the second half and Shrewsbury had most of the possession and chances in a scrappy second half. 

They should have finally got their goal after 58 minutes. Ro-Shaun Williams was involved getting to the byline, he swung in a great ball picking out Clarke. Again with the goal at his mercy all he had to do was connect but he couldn't and was eventually smothered by Burge. 

Sunderland couldn't get a foot in the game and were in danger of being swept away. Another Sunderland attack broke down and Shrewsbury counter, Joe Whalley cutting inside of Leadbitter but he fired his effort over the bar. 

Heading towards the last fifteen minutes of the game, you would be forgiven for thinking that a lack of match fitness would force Shrewsbury to lower their tempo but if anything it was getting faster as they were carving Sunderland open with ease. 

Sunderland's contribution to the game was a twenty yard strike from outside the area which sailed into the stand behind Sarkic's goal. They hit the side netting when Max Power shot but with numbers in the attack he would have been better trying to find a teammate as Chris Maguire's layoff wasn't the greatest. 

Shrewsbury resumed their dominance after that. A long ball over the top found Chapman. He moved forward and looked to curl an effort into the top left hand corner of Burge's goal, it was misjudged and just went over the bar. 

Sunderland, aware the clock was running down, were sensible. They didn't really overexert themselves in attack but they weren't camped in their area like they had been at points in the half. 

Man of the match: Ro-Shaun Williams 

How Shrewsbury left empty handed only they and specifically Leon Clarke will know. They put everything into the game and coasted for a large part of the game. They came agonisingly close to a goal and a big part of that was Ro-Shaun Williams. His delivery was excellent and had Clarke brought his shooting boots he would have had a great assist. 

In a game that lacked quality he was solid and can be happy with everything about his days work except the result.  

Takeaways

Mixed bag for Sunderland

Sunderland may have three points and a long awaited home win, but they were nearly their own downfall. Once Clarke went close after the half hour mark they never got a foot back in the game. They defended well which will please Johnson but against better opposition it would have been a different story. 

 

 

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