Aiden McGeady produced two goals in the second half to clinch all three points at Plymouth today, moving the lads up to second in the table in the process.
Despite playing well in the first half we lacked a cutting edge but, after the break, a fabulous strike by the Irish winger put us ahead before he dispatched a penalty to kill the game off after Luke O’Nien was fouled in the box.
Plymouth: Matt Macey, Tafari Moore, Yann Songo’o, Niall Canavan, Conor Grant, Jamie Ness, David Fox (c), Antoni Sarcevic, Graham Carey, Joel Grant, Freddie Ladapo
Subs: Ruben Lamerias, Stuart O’Keefe, Calum Dyson, Kyle Letheren, Ashley Smith-Brown, Peter Grant, Luke Jephcott
Sunderland: Jon McLaughlin, Adam Matthews, Tom Flanagan, Jack Baldwin, Reece James, George Honeyman (c), Dylan McGeouch, Lynden Gooch, Aiden McGeady, Chris Maguire, Josh Maja
Subs: Robbin Ruiter, Alim Ozturk, Glenn Loovens, Luke O’Nien, Jerome Sinclair, Bali Mumba, Benji Kimpioka
Sunderland had their first chance when George Honeyman intercepted the ball and charged forward before squaring it to Josh Maja in the box, but the Lads’ top scorer was unable to jostle his way into a decent firing position and his eventual effort was comfortably deflected out for a corner.
Approaching the twenty minute mark, Chris Maguire looked to make it two pearlers in two games when he let loose a daisy shredder from outside the box - forcing a good save from on-loan Arsenal ‘keeper Matt Macey, who could only parry the shot away.
The home side’s first real sight on goal came when Joel Grant got the better of both Adam Matthews and Tom Flanagan as he skinned the both of them before firing the ball along the goalmouth corridor - thankfully, Jon McLaughlin was quickest to react as he smothered the effort.
A curling strike from Lynden Gooch was Sunderland’s next substantial attempt on goal; once again Macey’s reflexes denied the Lads their lead.
Plymouth might’ve found the opener on the verge of half-time when McLaughlin came off his line to meet a cross but mistimed his movement and ultimately overshot the trajectory. When the ball fell it landed for Antoni Sarcevic, but the Pilgrims’ midfielder couldn’t direct his effort anywhere near the target.
Ultimately, neither side managed to find the back of the net in the opening forty-five. This action packed and well contested first half ended on the same scoreline with which it began.
HT: Plymouth 0-0 Sunderland
It’s starting to feel like the beginning of the second half is our favourite time to find the net - Aiden McGeady certainly seemed to think so, anyway.
The Irishman did brilliantly to feint and saunter his way across the edge of the box before eventually opening fire at the opportune moment - with the end product being a thunderous effort terminating in the bottom left corner of the Plymouth goalmouth.
But the home side would be forgiven for thinking they had their equaliser not long after when Flanagan gave away a free-kick on the edge of the box. The subsequent set piece, which was taken by captain David Fox, looked destined for the top right corner but - once again - McLaughlin demonstrated tremendous reflexes in the form of a fingertip save to leave our face of goal unblemished.
The following corners then deteriorated into a succession of goalmouth scrambles in which the keeper was once again called into action along with his defenders - but despite Plymouth chucking everything and the kitchen sink at us, the Lads weathered the storm.
Sunderland then got their second when substitute Luke O’Nien’s legs tangled with those of Tafari Moore in the box and the former was soon forced to the ground by the letter, resulting in a penalty being rewarded.
McGeady stepped up to convert from the spot and convert he did, placing his shot in the bottom left corner much like his opener before it.
The resounding, defeatist boos resonating from the home crowd of Home Park heralded their side’s loss. Plymouth were unable to find any sort of response and finished the game goalless and beaten by a Sunderland side who now sit second in the table.
FT: Plymouth 0-2 Sunderland (McGeady 53’, 78’ [P])
Jon McLaughlin, 8/10: Just another great performance really.
Adam Matthews, 6/10: Far from a bad performance, but he struggled to contain Plymouth’s Joel Grant at times.
Tom Flanagan, 7/10: Also struggled with Grant but made some great defensive contributions in spite of that - more so in the second half.
Jack Baldwin, 7/10: Generally quite solid, business as usual from him.
Reece James, 7/10: Naturally as a full-back, you get games where you’ll struggle to stand out regardless of how you play, but James did everything he needed to and made up the numbers in the box when Plymouth had their flurry of corners.
George Honeyman, 7/10: One of his better performances of the season so far. Lively, industrious and managed to put pressure on Plymouth at the back despite playing a more deeper role himself today.
Dylan McGeouch, 7/10: Tidy, assured, nice, neat, all are synonymous with McGeouch when he’s on form.
Lynden Gooch, 7/10: Hassled the full-backs with his pace and power, but perhaps waned somewhat as the second half went on.
Aiden McGeady, 8/10: After a fairly poor first half, most of us were calling for McGeady to be taken off at half time. I’m so glad Jack Ross wasn’t of the same opinion; the Irishman’s opener and penalty conversion made all the difference today.
Chris Maguire, 6/10: Not a standout performer by any means but he did look lively and tested the keeper with a good shot early on.
Josh Maja, 5/10: Tried to put pressure on the Plymouth back line but was quite comfortably contained.
(SUB) Jerome Sinclair, 6/10: His pace helped to effectively press a tiring defence.
(SUB) Luke O’Nien, 7/10: Added a pair of fresh legs and won us a penalty. Can’t complain with that.
(SUB) Bali Mumba, 6/10: He’s seventeen and competently holding his own against seasoned professionals, fair play to him.
Man of the Match: Aiden McGeady
Attendance: 12,065 (1,305 Sunderland fans)