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Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray makes a losing return to Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough v Sunderland – Sky Bet Championship – Riverside Stadium
(Image credit: Owen Humphreys)

Riley McGree ruined Tony Mowbray’s return to Middlesbrough as the new Sunderland boss suffered derby defeat in his second game in charge.

The Australia international’s first-half strike secured a 1-0 Sky Bet Championship win for Chris Wilder’s men – just their second of the season – at the Riverside Stadium.

Sunderland, who lost leading scorer Ross Stewart after the warm-up, were blunted as a result and rarely looked like dragging themselves back into the match despite a spirited fightback which extended into seven minutes of stoppage time.

Mowbray, returning to the club for which he made more than 400 appearances as a player before a three-year stint as manager, saw Boro set about their task with relish and after Alex Pritchard had wasted a good opportunity to give the visitors the lead, they started to make their presence felt with wing-backs Isaiah Jones and Ryan Giles prominent.

Black Cats goalkeeper Anthony Patterson had to claw away Jonny Howson’s 23rd-minute free-kick at his near post and when Giles fed the loose ball back across goal, McGree stabbed a shot into the ground and over the bar.

However, the same combination did the trick within two minutes when McGree controlled Giles’ driven cross with his first touch and then dispatched it past Patterson with his second to give the Teessiders a deserved lead.

Sunderland responded as Pritchard and striker Ellis Simms worked hard to push Boro back towards their own goal, the midfielder prompting fouls which cost Paddy McNair and Matt Clarke bookings in quick succession before earning a yellow card of his own for a poor challenge on Jones.

McGree might have doubled his tally three minutes before the break, but shot tamely at Patterson, although the Teessiders were deservedly ahead at the break.

With Stewart’s replacement Patrick Roberts operating in closer proximity to Simms after the restart, the Black Cats posed a greater threat, but continued to lack the quality of final ball to make it count.

They might have fallen further behind had Patterson not managed to claw away Rodrigo Muniz’s 62nd-minute downward header seconds after Matt Crooks had fired across the face of goal, and the keeper denied former Black Cats forward Duncan Watmore, on as a substitute, 10 minutes later.

Boro keeper Liam Roberts had to be alert to keep out substitute Elliot Embleton’s late free-kick, but Patterson thwarted Watmore once again as time ran down.

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