Sunderland responded positively to their penalty shootout defeat in the Checkatrade Trophy final to Portsmouth on Sunday with a 3-0 victory over Accrington Stanley at the Wham Stadium.
Jack Ross made a number of changes to the team that lost the Checkatrade Trophy final on penalties to Portsmouth at Wembley Stadium of Sunday afternoon.
The gaffer played a positive 4-4-2 formation with Charlie Wyke and Will Grigg leading the line up top. Denver Hume replaced the injured, Reece James, while Max Power and Dylan McGeouch sat in the centre of midfield, with Lynden Gooch replacing Lewis Morgan.
Aiden McGeady had given Sunderland an early lead when his shot curled into the top corner of the Stanley net. Then, just before the interval, Will Grigg doubled Sunderland’s lead with a cool and composed effort. With 79 minutes on the clock, Kazaiah Sterling made sure that Sunderland would go back to Wearside with all three points.
This win means that Sunderland have leapfrogged Portsmouth into third place as they go two points ahead of them with a game in hand on Pompey. Also, Sunderland are now three points behind Barnsley with two games in hand on the Tykes.
First Half: Starting in the best possible way!
Sunderland started positively and received an immediate impact after a moment of brilliance from Aiden McGeady. Tom Flanagan played the ball to McGeady, who took a few touches to enable to position himself. Then, he curled a shot powerfully from just outside of the D into the top left corner of the Accrington Stanley net, beating Dimitar Evtimov.
Later in the first half, McGeady had a brilliant chance to double his and Sunderland’s tally when some fantastic work on the left wing by Denver Hume allowed McGeady to take an effort from inside of the penalty area, but his shot wasn’t far away from the post.
Lynden Gooch came even closer when a lobbed ball by McGeouch found its way to the USMNT international, who was through on goal and past the defender. He touched the ball over the goalkeeper and it looked like it was bobbling over the line, but it hit off the post. The rebound was cleared by Accrington, and although Grigg and Wyke were waiting it didn’t bounce in their direction.
Sunderland scored a second just before the interval when a ball forward by Stanley was cleared by McLaughlin, so far that it reached Will Grigg at the opposite end of the pitch. He took the ball down well and was one on one with Evtimov, calmly tucking the ball under the Accrington goalkeeper to make it two-nil.
Second Half: Finishing in clinical style!
Just like in the Checkatrade Trophy final, Sunderland’s opposition came out in the second half stronger and applied boatloads of pressure on the Sunderland backline.
The Lads successfully rode through it, though, and began to create their chances on the counter attack with Charlie Wyke. He capitalised on a defensive error and his shot from just inside the penalty area whistled over the bar.
Another chance came for Sunderland, and this time, Charlie Wyke, who was unfortunate to have not scored. Hume crossed the ball into the penalty area and Wyke’s header was nodded just wide of the right post.
Sunderland finally got their third when Lewis Morgan sprinted through on goal on the right side of the pitch, squaring the ball to Kazaiah Sterling, who tapped it into the back of the Accrington Stanley net. He celebrated his first ever senior goal and his first one in a Sunderland shirt in front of the travelling fans positioned in the open stand.
The match ended Accrington Stanley 0-3 Sunderland AFC, and Jack Ross’ side managed to claim a crucial three points in the race for promotion.
Next up, Sunderland face second-bottom Rochdale at the Crown Oil Arena. I would expect Charlie Wyke to start again as I thought that whilst the former Bradford striker was unlucky not to get himself onto the score sheet, he had his best game since arriving here last summer.
Also, I think that Denver Hume deserves to keep his place after a good performance at the Crown Ground on Wednesday evening, both on the defensive and attacking side. Hopefully, we will have another win to cheer for on Saturday and to be able to close the gap at the top.