STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 15: Jermain Defoe of Sunderland looks on during the Premier League match between Stoke City and Sunderland at Bet365 Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

Sunderland’s late match woes seem set to doom them to relegation

By all accounts, Sunderland isn’t a very good team. With only two points out of nine matches, the club sits at the bottom of the Premier League. David Moyes, who took over as manager this summer might not last the season, but he’s been on the wrong end of some pretty bad luck this year. They say it’s better to be lucky than good, but Sunderland has been neither.

Sunderland’s problems this season are many, but a peculiar issue they’ve been having has been allowing last minute goals. The season started off against Manchester City, hardly an easy opponent for a team many pegged to be relegated. Sunderland gave City a game, though. Despite going down 1-0 in the opening minutes, Sunderland fought back and leveled the score. The Black Cats looked like they might spoil Pep Guardiola’s Premier League Debut. It wasn’t to be, however as a Paddy McNair own goal in the 87th minute gave City the three points.

[link_box id=”23195″ site_id=”158″ layout=”link-box-third” alignment=”alignright”]After the City match, things started going south and quickly for Sunderland. In the third match of the season, Sunderland traveled to Southampton. They were 0-0-2 at the time, but in a scoreless match, the visitors scored with 10 minutes remaining. Sunderland looked set to win their first game of the season but five minutes after taking the lead, Jay Rodriguez scored for the hosts. Sunderland picked up their first point of the season but the nature of the late goal meant it felt more like two points lost rather than a point gained.

Sunderland lost their next two games and despite winning in the EFL cup, their season was becoming a mess. The biggest loss of the season came a month after their disappointing draw with Southampton. Hosting Crystal Palace, Sunderland took a 2-0 lead after 60 minutes. Palace wasn’t off to a flying start, but they were certainly doing better than Sunderland, so holding on for a win would have gone a long way towards recovery. It wasn’t to be as the last half hour was a disaster for the Black Cats. Three unanswered goals for Palace, including a winner from Christian Benteke deep into stoppage time, doomed the hosts. Sunderland was still winless.

Fast forward to this past weekend and Sunderland were once against beaten by their inability to close out matches. This time a meeting with West Ham United, a team with their own troubles, once again ended with late heartbreak. Four minutes deep into stoppage time and Winston Reed scored to give the Hammers a 1-0 win and some cushion between them and the bottom three. For Sunderland, it pushed them further into the basement and with one foot already in the Championship.

Sunderland’s season is going to hang on the next few games, a short winning streak could see them get out of trouble. After all, they are only five points from safety. However, the worrying trend of late goals won’t inspire much confidence. When you’re far more likely to concede in the dying minutes of a game it’s hardly good for moral.

Moyes has said he hopes that the transfer market can help turn the season around. The Black Cats have to hope they are still in contention by that time. As it stands they’re on a fast track to relegation. Dropping so many points in the fashion they have might be tough luck, but they say you make your own luck. If that’s the case, Sunderland has made this problem themselves. Only they can solve it, but that’s going to require a lot of work. And a little luck.

About Harrison Prolic

Northern Illinois graduate with a degree in Journalism. Full-time page designer in Madison, Wisconsin. Part time follower of all things German soccer. I tweet about the Bundesliga and plenty of other sports @hprolic.