Sunderland 1 Wigan 0 match report: Steven Fletcher strike win it for Black Cats

Sunderland 1 Wigan 0: Fletcher strike ends Black Cats woeful winless run

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UPDATED:

16:50 GMT, 29 September 2012

Steven Fletcher fired Sunderland to their first Barclays Premier League victory of the season with his fifth goal in four games.

The 25-year-old turned James McClean's 51st-minute cross-shot past keeper Ali Al Habsi to win a match of little quality as 10-man Wigan were made to pay almost instantly for Jordi Gomez's rush of blood.

Gomez was sent off just two minutes into the second half for a dangerous lunge at defender Danny Rose and a game in which his side had enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes turned on its head.

Listen up: Fletcher celebrates scoring the winning goal early in the first half

Listen up: Fletcher celebrates scoring the winning goal early in the first half

Match facts

Sunderland: Mignolet, Gardner, O'Shea, Bramble, Rose, Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon, Fletcher.

Subs: Westwood, Campbell, Wickham, Kilgallon, Vaughan, Meyler, Saha.

Goal: Fletcher

Wigan: Al Habsi, Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa, Boyce, McCarthy, McArthur, Beausejour, Kone, Gomez, Maloney.

Subs: Pollitt, Jones, Watson, Di Santo, McManaman, Boselli, Miyaichi.

Booked: McCarthy

Sent off: Gomez

Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

Premier League results, fixtures and table

Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill will
have been delighted to see his team end a 12-game wait for a league
victory dating back to last season, but it might have been very
different had it not been for Gomez's lack of discipline and keeper
Simon Mignolet.

The Belgium international pulled off
vital first-half saves from James McCarthy and Arouna Kone to keep the
visitors at bay as the home side struggled to find any real rhythm.

However, the sending-off gave them fresh impetus and they never looked like surrendering their lead.

The game represented a contest
between a club with no Premier League win in a dozen attempts and
another with just one this season, and the 37,742 spectators who
attended perhaps should not have expected a thriller.

Sunderland were boosted by the return
of England winger Adam Johnson, who had passed a late fitness test on
his thigh injury, but deprived of the services of skipper Lee Cattermole
following his midweek dismissal.

Cattermole's absence proved key
before the break as Sebastian Larsson and Jack Colback struggled to get
to grips with McCarthy and Shaun Maloney, who combined well with Kone
and Gomez to stretch the home defence repeatedly.

Indeed, the visitors could have been
ahead with just four minutes gone when Republic of Ireland international
McCarthy was allowed to waltz through a statuesque Black Cats defence,
only to see his left-foot shot blocked by Mignolet.

From the resulting corner, the ball was cleared only as far as Gomez on the edge of the box, and he blasted a volley over.

Mignolet came to the rescue once
again with 15 minutes on the clock when Jean Beausejour crossed from the
left to pick out Ivorian at the far post.

Red alert: Gones was shown a straight red for this challenge on Rose

Red alert: Gones was shown a straight red for this challenge on Rose

Red alert: Gones was shown a straight red for this challenge on Rose

Red alert: Gones was shown a straight red for this challenge on Rose

He seemed certain to score, but Mignolet somehow managed to bundle his effort from point-blank range around the post.

For their part, Sunderland created
little of note with in-form striker Fletcher feeding off scraps for long
periods with wide-men Johnson and McClean unable to provide him with
any meaningful supply.

However, they came close to taking
the lead with 28 minutes played when Sebastian Larsson's free-kick from
the left evaded attackers and defenders alike as it sped across the
penalty area before being hacked off the line by Ivan Ramis.

But the half finished as it had
started with Wigan threatening once again two minutes before the whistle
when McCarthy once again made the most of the time and space he was
afforded to send a long-range effort inches wide with Mignolet diving
desperately to his left.

Roberto Martinez will no doubt have
been happy as his side returned to the dressing room, but his mood will
have changed markedly within two minutes of the restart.

Firing blanks: Wigan couldn't make the breakthrough in the controversial clash at the Stadium of Light

Firing blanks: Wigan couldn't make the breakthrough in the controversial clash at the Stadium of Light

There seemed to be little danger as
left-back Danny Rose picked up possession on halfway, but Gomez leapt
into an ugly challenge to leave the Sunderland man in a heap and referee
Howard Webb with little option to produce a red card.

The home side made their numerical
advantage count with four minutes when McClean broke into the box and
appeared to drag his shot across the face of goal.

Whatever his intention, the ball fell perfectly for Fletcher, who swept it home without a second thought to break the deadlock.

O'Neill's men were suddenly
re-energised and immediately set about the task of killing the game off
with Stephane Sessegnon forcing Ali Al Habsi into a 54th-minute save
before Craig Gardner blasted over from long range.

Martinez sent on striker Franco di Santo for Maloney on the hour, but the game was rapidly slipping from his side's grasp.

Neither side was able to exert any
measure of control as time ran down, but Sunderland held out in what was
an untidy conclusion to claim three valuable points.