Will Grigg fired Sunderland to victory in a six goal thriller at the Stadium of Light against Gillingham, moving Jack Ross’ men closer to automatic promotion.
The visitors twice answered Sunderland goals levelling at 1-1 and 2-2 through Tom Eaves and Brandon Hanlan after Lee Cattermole and Tom Flanagan had scored from Grant Leadbitter corners in a chaotic first-half.
Grigg was the hero, confidently burying a second-half penalty to score his first goal in Sunderland colours, before McGeady settled nerves scoring from the spot as well.
Sunderland survived a tough test at home, despite being their own worst enemies with some appalling first-half defending. The Black Cats close the gap on Barnsley to four points with the Mackems having played one game less than the second-placed side.
Fans had barely settled in their seats before Sunderland were ahead. Lee Cattermole on his return to starting 11 fired home from close range.
Cattermole blasted past Tomas Holy in the visitor’s goal after Gillingham failed to deal with a Grant Leadbitter corner.
Within seconds the visitors were level through Eaves. The Gills’ frontman was first onto a long ball over the top and saw his effort deflect past Jon McLaughlin.
Flanagan put Sunderland back ahead from another excellent Leadbitter delivery from a corner. Flanagan rose highest to power a header past Holy.
Gillingham scored again taking advantage of dreadful Sunderland defending. Failure from Sunderland to clear their lines after half-defending a Gills corner, ended with Hanlan slotting home from close range.
Ross’ men went in level at half-time having thrown away their advantage in a game they had largely controlled.
Gillingham were the better team immediately after the break, playing with greater confidence and poise. They couldn’t make their early pressure pay though, with Leonardo Da Silva Lopes’ long range effort the closest the visitors came.
Against the run of play Sunderland took the lead for a third time. Luke O’Nien was barged over by Da Silva Lopes before he could get his shot away, winning Sunderland a penalty.
Grigg stepped up and buried the spot-kick, sending Holy down to his right before stroking the ball home to the left.
O’Nien was brought down in the box again and this time McGeady stepped up, scoring in similar fashion seeing Holy dive to his right before passing down the middle.
The closing 15 minutes were quite comfortable for Sunderland following McGeady’s goal, as Sunderland finally returned to winning ways, re-energising their promotion push.
Jon McLaughlin, 6/10: Did little wrong on either goal, had a quiet evening otherwise.
Luke O’Nien, 8/10: Played with great energy and produced some excellent crosses, winning us two penalties in the process.
Tom Flanagan, 6/10: Scored a good goal, but struggled defensively at times.
Jimmy Dunne, 5/10: Dominated by Eaves and erratic with his passing. Must learn quick!
Reece James, 6/10: Not doing enough offensively, but was one of Sunderland’s hardest workers.
Grant Leadbitter, 7/10: Tidy in possession and provided two assists with his excellent deliveries from corners.
Lee Cattermole, 8/10: Sunderland’s best player, a great all-round performance.
George Honeyman, 7/10: Plenty of energy and effort - enjoyed the time and space that Gillingham afforded our midfield.
Chris Maguire, 6/10: Unfortunately brought off injured in the first 15 minutes after a bright start.
Aiden McGeady, 7/10: Rolls Royce of a player. Nice touch to give Grigg the first penalty.
Will Grigg, 6/10: Barely involved, didn’t get the service he needed to test the Gills defence. Great to see him off the mark though!
(SUB) Lynden Gooch, 5/10: Some bright moments, but little end product to go with his energy and effort.
(SUB) Dylan McGeouch, 5/10: Brought on to calm things down.
(SUB) Max Power, 5/10: Not on long enough really.
Man of the Match: Lee Cattermole.