The Easter weekend is another which stands out for football fans as one to savour.
For followers of Football League clubs, you’ll find your team playing twice in four days. Sunderland are once again at home on Good Friday, and it has become a day we’ve really enjoyed playing on.
Out of the 72 teams in the EFL, only League Two Barrow are on a better winning run in games on this particular bank holiday. Four straight wins, the last three all on home soil, have made Good Friday trips to the SoL particularly memorable.
In these four wins, we’ve clocked a dozen goals and shipped just four. We’ve been picked for Sky coverage on two occasions - a stat which becomes three in five this year. So saddle up for a lovely trip down memory lane, and regale our previous Good Friday encounters on which we’ve left with all three points.
Derby County 1-4 Sunderland - Friday March 30 2018
Sunderland went down to play-off chasing Derby off the back of a ten game winless run. We were however buoyed by knowing a win would move us off the bottom of the table- but I dare say few Mackems were confident of that.
We made a surprisingly fast start and in the Derbyshire rain, led 2-1 at the break thanks to goals from George Honeyman and a first goal for on-loan Ashley Fletcher. The expected Derby second half onslaught never came, and instead Sunderland wrapped up a convincing victory thanks to Aiden McGeady and John O’Shea. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t win again until the opening day of the season- at which time relegation to league one was confirmed.
Sunderland 2-0 Doncaster - Friday April 19 2019
Sunderland headed into Good Friday 2019 just days after a bizarre 5-4 home defeat to Coventry City. Before that, a 19 game unbeaten run had us on the brink of the automatic promotion places. Doncaster Rovers were the visitors on a sunny Good Friday, they too were looking to seal a spot in the top six.
Jack Ross’ side were keen to get back to winning ways, and they didn’t mess about. On-loan Lewis Morgan opened the scoring after just seven minutes and shortly after the half hour mark, Charlie Wyke made it 2-0. After what was a relatively uneventful second half, Sunderland saw the game out to climb up to third. The season would, sadly, end in a play-off final heartbreak at Wembley.
Sunderland 3-1 Oxford United - Friday April 2 2021
The 2020/21 campaign was weird from the off, with matches taking place in empty stadiums due to the coronavirus pandemic. This Good Friday clash with fellow promotion hopefuls Oxford did not disappoint.
The visitors took the lead with James Henry’s stunning strike beating Lee Burge. Sunderland huffed and puffed, and on the stroke of half time Lynden Gooch squeezed in an equaliser. Mark Sykes was sent off just past the hour mark and nine minutes from time Aiden McGeady popped up with a crucial second goal. The aftermath of the goal saw U’s boss Kar Robinson given his marching orders.
He was in place to see Max Power round off a superb second half performance and make sure the points remained on Wearside. Unfortunately, Sunderland wouldn’t win again for another eight matches as our automatic promotion push fizzled away. We would go on to lose to Lincoln City in the playoffs.
Sunderland 3-2 Shrewsbury Town - Friday April 15 2022
Our most recent Good Friday fixture was another stress-inducing League One match. After waltzing into a two goal lead thanks to Elliot Embleton and Nathan Broadhead, Sunderland started the second half horribly.
Goals from Josh Vela and former Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan had the visitors level on the hour mark. In our scrap for a play-off place, dropping points from this position would have been criminal.
Fortunately, we grabbed a last gasp victory thanks to the head of Broadhead. A lovely in-swinging cross from Jack Clarke landed perfectly for Broadhead to get in ahead of the keeper and head home. The win helped to seal a playoff place, which on this occasion ended in a Wembley win against Wycombe.