Sunderland kept chase with Barnsley and Portsmouth after beating Doncaster Rovers 2-0 on what proved to be a Good Friday for Sunderland.
After conceding five against Coventry in their last game, Sunderland kept a clean sheet and scored two first half goals to pick up three vital points.
Lewis Morgan gave Sunderland an early lead and any doubt after that 5-4 defeat against Coventry, was eased away with that goal in the seventh minute. Meanwhile, there were a few shaky moments at the back with Alim Ozturk nearly given away a sloppy free kick just outside the penalty area to John Marquis, who was kept quiet, and Jimmy Dunne handling the ball in the area becoming unnoticed by referee, Andy Woolmer.
Then, despite playing with a migraine, Charlie Wyke doubled Sunderland’s lead after the goalkeeper committed himself off his line to punch the ball away but failed - and Dunne looped it over him for Wyke, who tapped the ball in.
In the second half, Doncaster arguably should have had a penalty when Alim Ozturk wrestled Andy Butler to the ground from a free kick.
After Barnsley picked up three points at home to Shrewsbury and Portsmouth scored a controversial late winner against Burton Albion at the Pirelli, these results piled more pressure on Sunderland to pick up three points and to bounce back from last Saturday’s 5-4 defeat against Coventry. Sunderland are in the same situation as they were after last Saturday, but they are now four points ahead of Charlton.
Jack Ross made four changes to the side that lost the nine-goal thriller against Coventry City. The majority of the Sunderland fans called for both of the centre-backs to be replaced for this match, and they were with Alim Ozturk and Jimmy Dunne replacing them, with Baldwin not making the squad at all. Aiden McGeady and Lee Cattermole came back into the starting eleven after being rested for Saturday’s match against the Sky Blues, with Will Grigg and Grant Leadbitter dropping to the bench.
First Half: An Attacking Display Rewarded
Sunderland were out of the blocks much faster than their opponents, Doncaster Rovers, and took the lead with only seven minutes on the clock. The ball was played into the penalty area by Aiden McGeady and a brilliant knockdown by Charlie Wyke allowed Lewis Morgan to strike the ball into the bottom left corner.
Luke O’Nien wasn’t far away from extending the Black Cats’ lead when the ball was cleared by Matty Blair but only to O’Nien, who from around 25 yards out arrowed the ball just over the bar.
Then, the visitors had shouts for a penalty waved away by the referee - the ball was played into the penalty area to Herbie Kane and it struck the arm of Jimmy Dunne, but the referee gave nothing.
Just after thirty minutes had passed at the Stadium of Light and it was time for Sunderland to double their advantage when Power crossed the ball into the penalty area and the Donny goalkeeper - Marko Marosi - came to try and haul the ball away from danger, but Dunne got to it ahead of the Slovakian, and then, Charlie Wyke reacted the quickest and divert the ball into the back of the net.
Moments before the referee blew his whistle for half time, Doncaster came within millimetres of halving the deficit when Danny Andrew’s free kick from around 25 yards out shattered the right post.
Second Half: Sunderland Take The Back Seat
In the second half it was almost like the Checkatrade Trophy final had repeated itself, as Sunderland had played brilliant attacking football for 45 minutes but took their foot off the gas and soaked up pressure, instead attempting to catch Doncaster on the counter - something that we can’t do when we face Peterborough and Portsmouth next Saturday.
The Lads were unlucky not to have scored when Oviedo picked the ball up on the halfway line on the left wing and it fell beautifully into his path after a bit of luck. He sprinted and cut into the penalty area, where he saw his shot rebound off the right post.
Later on in the second half, Doncaster had a penalty appeal after Alim Ozturk had his arms around Andy Butler inside the penalty area and he was pulled to the ground - but although the referee, Andy Woolmer, was standing right in front of the incident, he ignored all of the Donny claims.
From there Sunderland managed to hold out and the match ended Sunderland AFC 2-0 Doncaster Rovers.
The games are coming thick and fast, and we have another game on Monday against Peterborough United at the ABAX Stadium. After another exceptional performance I would fully expect Charlie Wyke to start up top again, with Will Grigg - again - having to sit on the bench.
With Portsmouth playing before us again in the lunchtime kick-off against Coventry at Fratton Park the pressure will be on us, but hopefully we can use it to spur us on.