Sunderland 0 Wigan Athletic 1: Fans want Black Cats board sacked

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The Independent Online

New manager, same old story. Caretaker Kevin Ball's first game in charge of bottom club Sunderland, who have not won at home all season, ended in a defeat that was as inevitable as the display was uninspiring.

Several hundred fans mustered afterwards to demand the sacking of the board, who had fired the manager, Mick McCarthy, on Monday, but during the match the usually passionate crowd was reduced to silence.

Wigan finished seven points beneath Sunderland last season when both were promoted, and are now 33 points ahead of them and pushing for Europe.

The sides, though, were only separated by the game's one touch of class. It came in the eighth minute, when Lee McCulloch powered through a handful of half-hearted defenders to leap at a long free-kick. He won the ball, and as Nyron Nosworthy wondered what to do with it Henri Camara turned in an instant and volleyed wonderfully into the top right corner of the net via the post.

"It was a painful game," said the Wigan manager, Paul Jewell. "Like having teeth out without an anaesthetic. The goal didn't deserve the game and after it we were hopeless."

Sunderland don't score - just nine goals in 15 home matches and they went the first 32 minutes of the second half without managing a shot. "It's important as a manager that you look for positives and I will reiterate that we made chances but we need to hit the back of the net," said Ball. "We need to see big smiles on everyone's faces."

There was very little for anyone to smile about in the second half. In the 73rd minute, the swirling wind blew on some litter which the Sunderland captain, Stephen Caldwell, almost tripped over. It wasn't the only rubbish on the pitch.

The striker Jon Stead, who has not scored all season, came on and proved incapable of scrambling home from a yard. Somehow, no one was surprised.

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