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FINLAY’S REPORT: Sunderland needed a big performance, and boy did they deliver against Rochdale!

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13-year old budding sports journalist Finlay Anderson gives his analysis of Sunderland’s win and performance yesterday against Rochdale - having suffered defeat last week, this was the perfect response and the type of performance needed if we are to seriously challenge for promotion this season!

Finlay’s column in the Sunderland matchday programme
Sunderland AFC

What an emphatic performance to pick up our fifth win of the season!

On Thursday night, when Jack Ross was answering questions on a phone-in on BBC Radio Newcastle, he said to me that the team need to start games better defensively and the side can rectify the problems that they have had in conceding early goals by consistency of working on the training ground and analysis that they work on before every game.

He obviously showed the answer to my question in this match, where the team managed to stop letting in goals from set-pieces and in the opening 36 minutes of matches.

I thought that we would have started the game on the front foot after last week’s 2-1 defeat against Burton Albion and that definitely was the case.

From the first minute, we were clearly on top and although Rochdale slowly started creeping back into the game, we halted this period by scoring the first goal through Josh Maja. Our main man won the EFL Young Player of the Month in the week and topped up his tally with a pin-point header from good work on the left by Chris Maguire.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Only a few minutes later, some intelligent play by Gooch in the penalty area dragged the covering Rochdale defender towards him like a magnet, and he brought him down and the referee gave a penalty. This was calmly tucked away by Gooch, who scored his second goal of the season.

With no disrespect to the visitors, I think they were having an off day as previous results show that they are a tough team to face - with their main man Ian Henderson not being as prolific as last week when he scored a hat-trick against Gillingham FC.

Just before half time, Maja’s brilliant second goal of the match topped off Sunderland’s first half performance and gave Jack Ross something to be cheerful about.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Lyndon Gooch put the icing on the cake in the 66th minute, when he guided the ball into the bottom left corner of the Rochdale net to score yet again and to probably take the three points out of the match.

The visitors did bring one back when Jack Baldwin was ushered off the ball a bit too easily for me and then a square pass into the penalty area was tapped home by Matthew Done, making Jon McLaughlin furious and taking the clean sheet away from us, which would have been another plus to an amazing performance.

Meanwhile, a negative for me in the first half was the delivery of the set-pieces as they weren’t being put into a dangerous area by the taker and gifting Rochdale a goal kick, where they could have hurt us attacking.

Next Saturday we face Coventry City in the early lunchtime kick-off in League One away from home. If we play like we did in this match we should hopefully pull ourselves through and bring the three points back up to Wearside, with around 5,000 fans travelling to the game, which is exceptional for a third-tier side.