Sunderland 1-2 Sheffield United: Clayton Donaldson nets twice on Blades debut
By Press Association
Last Updated: 09/09/17 7:32pm
Deadline-day signing Clayton Donaldson fired Sheffield United to a 2-1 win at the Stadium of Light to pile the misery on Sunderland.
Donaldson struck in each half to guide the Blades to a third win in a row - even though the former Birmingham frontman's goals were the first scored by the Championship new-boys away from home this season.
Sunderland, who have won just one of their opening six league games and have lost three in a row, pulled one back in stoppage time through Jack Rodwell's header but they now sit just a point above the relegation zone on another afternoon they will want to forget.
Black Cats fans chanted 'you're not fit to wear the shirt' and 'are you watching Ellis Short' at the players and the club's owner, as manager Simon Grayson was left frustrated in the dug-out.
Grayson must have hoped the introduction of deadline-day signings Jonny Williams and Marc Wilson to the starting line-up would have the desired effect on his team after back-to-back defeats to Barnsley and Leeds.
Despite the evident energy of Williams, eager to impress on his home bow after moving from Crystal Palace, Sunderland never got going and struggled to create things as well as being nervous at the back.
Neither side created anything of note until the opening goal. That arrived on 21 minutes when Wilson, signed from Bournemouth, must have wanted the ground to eat him up.
The defender, asked to play as one of three centre-backs, gave Donaldson far too much space to cut inside and then the Blades' most recent signing dispatched a low drive in off the near post.
Sunderland goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter should have done better and that opener led to a period of nervousness at the back, with Sheffield United doing enough to worry the hosts regularly without scoring a second.
Ruiter tipped a looping Donaldson header over the bar just after the half-hour before the Dutch shot-stopper had to be on hand to hold a curling effort from Mark Duffy.
Sunderland struggled to create anything at the other end because of a lack of movement. On the one occasion they did threaten in the opening period James Vaughan volleyed a Lewis Grabban cross wide from 12 yards.
Sunderland introduced John O'Shea for Lamine Kone at the back for the second half and in a further sign of how Chris Wilder's men frustrated Sunderland, striker Vaughan was replaced on the hour to make way for another debutant, Callum McManaman, while there were boos towards midfielder Rodwell from some Sunderland fans.
Things went from bad to worse in the closing stages when United added their second, substitute David Brooks sending Donaldson in behind the defence to fire a terrific finish inside the top left corner.
Despite a couple of late moves forward, which resulted in Rodwell nodding beyond Blackman from McManaman's cross, Sunderland could not find a way back.
Simon Grayson: "Of course it is frustrating when you lose another game at home, it is like Groundhog Day: we started decent enough, tried to get the first goal on the front foot, and 25 seconds before they put it in our net we nearly score. Confidence gets drained out of the team when we concede and that not just this year, it's over a number of years here. We have to overcome that obstacle.
"We have to roll our sleeves up, stick our chests out and get over this obstacle which has been in place for a number of years. We need better decisions and better quality. You are not going to score too many goals if you don't do those things. It's a fragile state of mind, I have been there as a player for 20 years or so. Soon it can change very quickly, we are all in this together, the fans, supporters and the staff. We have to try to ride this storm of negativity."
Chris Wilder: "It's a great day for Clayton and a fantastic day for our football club. It was our first away win for six years at this level, so to come to an iconic stadium like this and do it, it was great reward for them all. e felt Clayton was what we needed. It's not always available to us but we wanted someone to run in behind, the goals showed everyone what he is all about.
"I've almost signed him eight times, mugged me off every time. Ask every player he has played with and they will come to the same conclusions: he's hard-working, under-rated, first-class and he is a team player. Everyone drags stuff up like not getting anything away from home, but I felt we were right to win away from home and what better place than to come and do it here? he players went out and produced a solid, fantastic away performance. We are disappointed with their goal at the end, but we were a threat all game."