N Forest 0-1 Sunderland: Aiden McGeady nicks win for Black Cats
By Press Association
Last Updated: 30/12/17 7:37pm
Sunderland managed only one solitary effort on goal at Nottingham Forest - and it was enough to earn them all three points.
Aiden McGeady's first-half header earned Chris Coleman's team a 1-0 Sky Bet Championship victory at the City Ground.
Daryl Murphy had six efforts on goal on his own for Mark Warburton's side but could not muster a goal against his former club. And, from the moment McGeady headed home an Adam Matthews cross in the 40th minute, Coleman's side professionally held out for a vital win.
They did not manage another meaningful effort on goal - on or off target - but that will have mattered little to the travelling fans, who celebrated their third win of the former Wales boss' tenure.
It left Warburton's side to face a barrage of boos at the final whistle, as they saw their recent frustrating run extended to one win in seven games.
Murphy twice came close as Forest started brightly, firstly when Robbin Ruiter raced off his line to block, after the big striker had bundled his way into the box powerfully.
The 'keeper was a helpless bystander a few minutes later when Murphy bent a shot from the periphery of the box, which flew only a foot or so wide. When Kieran Dowell drove towards the penalty area, his clever ball carved out another half chance for Murphy but his lofted shot, from a tight angle, was always dropping over.
Sunderland were yet to make a meaningful effort on goal of any kind, but Forest were dominating possession and creating frequent chances, with Murphy again coming close with a diving header that bounced wide. A looping cross from Ben Osborn set up yet another chance for Murphy but his header, from just a few yards, skimmed over the bar.
Then came the decisive moment in the game. Matthews was allowed the space to deliver from the left and McGeady rose unmarked to power home a simple, emphatic header to give Sunderland the advantage.
Dowell forced another save from Ruiter with a second half set-piece routine. But Sunderland were intent on defending their lead stoically, sitting deep.
Murphy forced one more save from Ruiter before limping off with an injury, to complete a frustrating afternoon for him in the 69th minute. The Sunderland 'keeper was well-placed again to claim a flicked effort from Ben Brereton, while Dowell flicked a header wide, as Forest toiled for an equaliser.
Eric Lichaj hit the post with the final kick of the game, as Sunderland held on for a win that lifted them out of the relegation zone.
Mark Warburton: "It was very similar to the last game in that we created chances, but did not put them away. We had a couple of headers in particular that were three, four or five yards from goal. You have to put those in the back of the net and we did not.
"Then we find ourselves 1-0 down to a team we knew would fight and who would sit in with 10 men behind the ball. That is hard. They were solid and compact and you cannot lose patience. I understand the crowd getting impatient, but we have to remain patient out there."
Chris Coleman: "Three points is all that matters. We had to do something different to what we did in the last game - and I thought the guys were brilliant. I was critical of us after the last game but, this time out, I was so proud of our players. They were absolutely brilliant.
"We defended in the second half for long periods, but we defended really well. The only scare we had was when they hit the post with the last kick of the game. We deserved the three points. It was the overall performance that pleased me, because there was a lot of intent."