CHRIS’ BARROW LOAD OF TROUBLE
CHRIS Coleman’s first home game as Sunderland boss was ruined with the help of one of his Wales old boys – and referee Keith Stroud.
Reading midfielder David Edwards, a member of Coleman’s squad at Euro 2016, struck in the 53rd minute as the ten-man Black Cats slipped back to second-bottom in the table.
Stroud came under fire again in the north-east after his howler at the Newcastle-Burton game last season when he wrongly ruled out Matt Ritchie’s penalty for encroachment instead of awarding a retake.
This time, Stroud sent off Sunderland winger Callum McManaman in first-half stoppage time for a second bookable offence after he bundled the ball into the net with his hand from Adam Matthews’ right-wing centre.
After Edwards’ opener, Mo Barrow’s brace put Reading virtually out of sight before Lewis Grabban pulled one back for Sunderland with a penalty.
But the Black Cats have now gone 21 home games without a win in all competitions and the next outing at the Stadium of Light – against Coleman’s former club Fulham – will be one day short of a year since the Wearsiders last won on their own turf.
Coleman, whose side won 2-0 at Burton a week earlier, said: “It’s a huge disappointment and we’re flat again now. We’re back to square one.
“You can see people are frustrated and they’re entitled to be because we haven’t won here for so long. We’ve been kicked back into the gutter.
“It was a big moment when Callum was sent off. I was a bit disappointed with Callum, I thought he was going to head the ball.
“Being down to ten men, it was a killer for us.”
Sunderland were forced to make a change before a ball was kicked in anger after Paddy McNair, who has battled back from a cruciate ligament injury, was hurt in the warm-up. Darron Gibson stepped into the midfield berth.
Reading should have taken the lead on 21 minutes when Edwards swept over at the near post.
Sunderland’s task was made harder when McManaman, booked for a foul on Barrow in the 14th minute, received his second yellow card. And the misery mounted after Sone Aluko’s cross-shot was only partially blocked and Edwards turned in the loose ball.
The home crowd then booed and jeered as Sunderland stood off Reading, allowing the visitors to casually knock the ball around.
George Honeyman brought a near-post save from former Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone, before Reading increased their lead in the 69th minute, Barrow volleying through Robbin Ruiter after Liam Kelly’s cross.
Barrow grabbed his second two minutes later when he cracked in from Yann Kermorgant’s hook, but Sunderland replied on 76 minutes after livewire substitute Joel Asoro went down under Leandro Bacuna’s challenge and Grabban converted the spot-kick.
Royals boss Jaap Stam said: “Mo has a certain quality and that’s why we brought him to the club.
“Everybody knows the wingers are very important because we’re looking for players with pace, ability on the ball and also scoring ability.
“When we signed Mo from Swansea, he needed to get used to what I expected from him and he has picked that up and is doing fantastically.”
NOWHERE TO GO: Sunderland’s Aiden McGeady is shut down by Reading scorer Dave Edwards