Sunderland 1-2 Wolves – As it happened
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Game over. Sunderland fail to muster a proper chance in the final minutes and the size of Martin O’Neil’s task is clear. This Sunderland team aren’t bad at all, but their confidence is shot. Wolves were excellent in spells today and when it mattered, Stephen Fletcher was an excellent man to have on the end of their chances.
For me this match has been a failure because I’ve used far too many exclamation marks.
90mins. There will be four minutes of stoppage time. Is there time for an equaliser? Did she speed up to avoid walking with me or did she have somewhere to be? Questions, questions, questions!
88mins. Sunderland are being held at arms length here. What a big three points for Wolves and what a bad blow for Sunderland, who were one kick away from a 2-0 lead. It reminds me of the time when that other team did this. I’ve not been downstairs all day.
85mins. Yellow card for Bendtner as he goes in late on a Wolves player. Ryan Noble is coming on for Sessegnon, which I think is a bad decision – Why? I won’t explain myself to you. Noble was top scorer for Sinderland’s reserves in each of the last two seasons, apparently. Get him.
An email. “Wayne Hennessey’s shorts are huge,” says Andrew Thomas (remember @TwistedBlood from earlier?) And indeed he’s right. I’m so hungry I might pass out, but no, I tell myself, not when the Premier League is in full flow! Endure! Endure!
Sunderland 1, Wolves 2! Jarvis’s cross hits Jamie O’Hara, it falls to Fletcher. BANG, he hits it cleanly into the bottom corner on the half-volley. His second of the game, Wolves deserve that, I’d say, for the fact that at no point in the last five minutes have they looked like settling for a draw. Now Sunderland come.
80mins. Shot in by Bendtner, but it’s blocked.
78mins. To think I doubted the Premier League. I’m having the time of my life. My impending demise and my worsening hunch no longer seem like problems at all. I’m a new man with a new attitude and it’s all thanks to Wolves and Sunderland. Thank you Mick, thank you Martin. Thank you Premier League.
76mins. Johnson is on for Wolves. Immediately he’s up trying to win the ball in Sunderland’s penalty area from a free kick. Wolves are, from almost 2-0 down, now on top. @TwistedBlood questions whether Martin O’Neil’s time at the club is coming to an end and I think we can safely say it is.
Sunderland 1, Wolves 1! Immediately Wolves break away and as the ball is floated in from the left, Fletcher only goes and heads in an equaliser. Seconds after Sunderland miss their penalty and Wolves are level. Crazy times.
Saved! Hennessey saves it easily from Larsson! BUT THERE’S MORE
Penalty! Larsson runs down the left for Sunderland, gets to the edge of the penalty area and hurls himself over Jody Craddock’s lumbering frame. It’s a huge dive, but he probably was touched. He’ll take the penalty…
70mins. The goalkeeper’s exchange kicks, with the outfield players jokingly trying to get involved.
67mins. I need some food now. I think perhaps some pasta with something. But you don’t care, you only care about the game. Selfish.
66mins. Hammill wins a corner with his first touch. The lad’s a bit special. Ebanks Blake is also on for Wolves, replacing Doyle. Wolves are going for pace, looking to unnerve the Manchester United
rejects former players.
63mins. Adam Hammill, a quick winger, is coming on for Wolves. Sunderland looked worried by Wolves’ quick counters in the first half but in this half it’s Wolves that have done the worrying. In writing that, I’ve missed another chance for Sunderland.
60mins. Hunt bursts through and looks like he’s going to go for a brilliant chip. Such as it is though, he doesn’t go for the Cantona, he goes for the Hunt, turning back and passing back. I’d have gone for the chip. It’s not for me to say whether or not that makes me a better player and person than Hunt or not.
57mins. Richardson clears Hunt’s cross of the line! Then Sunderland break with..Richardson! This lad is world class. Sunderland look very good now: Wolves are leaving themselves open at the back and Richardson’s runs from deep, added to Sessegnon’s willingness to take people on, is causing them problems.
54mins. Hennessey may have done better with the Sunderland goal. He was beaten at his near post from reasonably far out (the edge of the penalty area). It was a bullet though – one of mine, did I just hear someone suggest?
Sunderland 1, Wolves 0! All is well with the world! Kieran Richardson hammers one into the top corner to finish a marvellous break away from Sunderland – someone, to Bendtner, to Sessegnon, to RICHARDSON! He ran from deep in his own half to get to that. What can Wolves come up with? They’ve been the better team up until now.
48mins. Wolves free-kick over the bar from O’Hara. This isn’t even appalling, it’s standard Premier League. I just don’t care.
47mins. It’s raining now, and a Bendtner shot is rubbish. Enough positivity: it’s raining, raining in my heart.
46mins. *hands, not arms.
46mins. Cross by Hunt into Westwood’s arms.
The second half. 45 minutes to go. Martin O’Neil pretended to care about whether Sessegnon’s shot was cleared or not, I’ve just seen. I’m running on empty. Email in?
Highlights of the first half are being shown. And I have a new settee on its way. Some good things are happening in the world. Jose Mourinho is top of La Liga.
Half time. Steven Ward made a clearance off the line somewhere in there, so that’s one for each side. It’s 0-0, but it’s not a bad game. Christmas adverts set themselves on me. Maybe I do need a new settee. See you in a few minutes.
44mins. Up and down, up and down. Lots of crosses; some good, some bad, some indifferent.
40mins. Sunderland break immediately but their cross comes to nothing so Wolves can break. Well, they can until Lee Cattermole gets his 49th Premier League booking ever. Impressive it is not.
What a save from Westwood! Wolves move down the right with Jarvis (he’s playing both wings!), his cross is wicked, bouncing just between the goalkeeper and his defenders. Doyle misses it, but there at the back post is Hunt to tap i…no, Westwood somehow gets across to it! I brought that to life.
37mins. Some noise at Molineux. The fans appear certain that a goal kick – and there have been a lot of them in this game, strangely, without many shots – are something to cheer. And I’m willing to bow down to their superior knowledge.
33mins. Ha, they moved it back to the left in the end. Ethan 1, Wolves 0.
What must Martin O’Neil be making of this? Does he know he’s signed up to manage a team with a luminous blue away kit? [Subtle segue] Has he just seen Larsson chase back and win the ball when Wolves looked threatening?
32mins. Wolves look far more dangerous on the break than when they’re asked to work a way through a defence. Jarvis and Doyle keep combining well down the left. But here Wolves break down the right just to make me look a fool.
29mins. Sunderland work a shot with some nice passing - Sessegnon to Cattermole, who spread it out wide, to Ji. His shot is blocked though. All good things come to an end I suppose. We all have to accept that. Ji looks to have done that and good on him. His shot was blocked but he doesn’t look to have been crippled by that fact.
27mins. Sessegnon throws himself down and asks for a penalty. From what I saw, he wasn’t very polite about it either. It wasn’t a penalty: he was touched by Craddock (not in a sexual way) but it wasn’t a penalty.
25mins. More joy for Wolves down the left with Jarvis. Two runs in the space of a minute, with Wolves getting decent numbers out there to support him. Crosses fly in and Fletcher wins a weak header. The trouble with attacks in quick succession is they’re hard to describe.
23mins. Throw-in for Sunderland down the right – did Bardsley put some irony into that? I think he did, but don’t ask me how or what his ‘comment’ on society was.
20mins. A spell of pressure for Wolves. It ends in another offside, but it is promising. Promises get you nowhere really, though. I mean, someone will say they’ll give you a lift home but then it will be “too late.” Happens all the time to good, decent people. Lies upon deceit upon lies, Wolves.
19mins. Chance for Wolves…or was it? Doyle is played in down the left-hand side, he has some space and passes low and hard into Fletcher. Fletcher’s sliding finish is saved. Ah, but it’s offside. Damn.
14mins. Sunderland are on top, but their methods – hoofing it in from out wide – are basic. A shot from Seb Larsson may or may not have been on target. I’m watching this from in bed, Wolves are too. But I admire them for it; they’re suggesting that they’re so good they can afford to only turn up for the second half. It’s genuine wit on behalf of Mick McCarthy.
12mins. Some passing in midfield from Sunderland, but Zubar “smashes it away,” says the commentator of a routine interception. Was it brave of him to thwack it one rather than simply control the ball? Yes, it was.
10mins. A header by Bendtner drifts wide. A nice cross by Kieran Richardson. Both accomplished professionals if you ask me.
Chance! Cleared off the line! Wolves are claiming a goal here. The ball is played in from a corner (excellent work from Jamie O’Hara), it’s headered on twice before finding [a Wolves player]. His header is straight into the keeper’s arms. If I were being negative today, which I’m not, I’d say that it was pretty pathetic of Wolves to cry out that that had crossed the line.
5mins. Phil Bardsley takes a knock. But he’s okay now.
2mins. The players have not looked to keep the ball early on. Incompetence? No, free-thinking radicals, fighting against the New Efficiency drive which is sweeping football. I like it, Wolves and Sunderland, I like it.
Kick-off. The ball is being kicked around and this is the signal for me to start talking about it. Convention says mockery should ensue, but no, not today. Rather, I will say that both sets of players look particularly handsome today in their brightly coloured outfits.
Easy jokes dep. The referee today is Phil Dowd. I never know how people remember which referee is which.
Team news. The biggest bit of team news is that Martin O’Neil, appointed as Sunderland manager yesterday, will not be taking charge of the stripey team today. Instead, Steve Black will be shouting at the Sunderland players from inside the white box.
Team team news is: Wolverhampton Wanderers: Hennessey; Zubar, Craddock, Berra, Ward; Jarvis, Edwards, O’Hara, Hunt; Doyle, Fletcher. Subs: De Vries, Elokobi, Stearman, Ebanks-Blake, Johnson, Hammill, Milijas.
Sunderland: Westwood; Bardsley, O’Shea, Brown, Richardson; Larsson, Cattermole, Colback, Sessegnon; Ji, Bendtner. Subs: Carson, Gardner, Vaughan, Bramble, McClean, Elmohamady, Noble.
Preamble. The whole thing’s a nasty business. These are ugly times: even Steve Bruce is out of work. But don’t worry, it’s fine. I was edging, last night and this morning, towards being negative for ninety minutes, about how this match isn’t even today’s biggest in the Premier League and how people are dreadful, but then I only went and bloody saw the light. I’ve decided, as one of the great thinkers would, that instead of describing, I’m going to try and change the tone of today. This minute-by-minute of Wolves-Sunderland, therefore, will, at all costs be light-hearted.
So, I will begin with a joke. The joke is: me. Oh, how they laughed.
And now more: A competition, though unfortunately there are no winners here. Who has had a worse week: Me or Steve Bruce? Steve was sacked, but I’d like to put my case forward. Two of these three things actually happened to me this week, and can’t even be described as out of the ordinary. 1. I took part in an argument over who should slice a single mushroom and eventually listened to myself citing “principle” as to why I shouldn’t be the one to cut it. 2. Walking home, taking a slightly extended route so as to walk with someone, she actually sped up to make our time walking together less. 3. I was caught singing along to James Blunt – “I’m not calling for a second chance, I’m screaming at the top of my voice!” I screamed, at the top of my voice.
The votes are in, and I win. I had the worse week.