Sunderland 2 Morecambe 0

by Stuart Vose

McClean at the double in cup win.

Martin O'Neill saw his new boys impress as Sunderland swept aside Morecambe in the Capital One Cup.

James McClean scored a goal in each half as Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson – both of whom played from the start – got their Sunderland careers off to a winning start.

Both impressed, too, with Johnson assisting on both of McClean's goals and providing a boatload of quality deliveries from both flanks.

Sunderland were never in danger of defeat once McClean headed powerfully home on 24 minutes.

The attacking axis of Johnson, McClean, Fletcher and the mercurial Stephane Sessegnon caused constant problems and a workmanlike performance was capped by a second McClean goal with 25 minutes remaining.

On this evidence, there's much more to come from Sunderland's new boys.

It was a decent night's work for the Black Cats, with Louis Saha also making his home debut off the bench.

But it was Fletcher who was preferred to the Frenchman up front from the start following his move from Wolves late last week.

O'Neill had hinted at a strong side and handed both of his latest signings immediate debuts, with Keiren Westwood and Titus Bramble also stepping in.

Both the new boys were given a rapturous reception before kick-off, with Johnson quickly involved as he combined well with Jack Colback to tee up a half-chance.

Speaking in the build-up to the game, O'Neill had warned his side not to underestimate the Shrimps, who duly arrived on Wearside determined to attack.

However, the League Two side were restricted to early efforts from distance, including a speculative drive from left-back Robbie Threlfall which cleared Westwood's crossbar.

Sunderland's first real chance arrived 20 minutes in thanks to some superb craft by new boy Fletcher.

The striker did brilliantly to turn a long ball forward back into the path of the onrushing Colback, whose powerful drive from 20 yards was brilliantly blocked by Barry Roche.

The Morecambe keeper was in action again soon afterwards, moving smartly across goal to gather a cheeky effort from Craig Gardner, who attempted to catch his opponent unawares with a quick snap shot from distance.

But Sunderland's momentum was unmistakably building and they roared into the lead 24 minutes in with Johnson – cheered with every touch – the creator.

The winger's corner was measured perfectly to the front post for McClean to bulldoze his way beyond his marker to head in.

Then it was almost Fletcher's turn to get in on the act as he headed a McClean cross wide having manoeuvred himself into a super position.

Sunderland, though, were dominant with Sessegnon constantly probing and dual wingers McClean and Johnson buzzing away on the flanks.

Johnson rounded off a strong first half with a dipping free kick which flashed narrowly off-target, while Seb Larsson also headed over.

The second period began on a quieter note, with neither side threatening until Morecambe's Lewis Alessandra fired powerfully wide just before the hour.

But Sunderland's first attack of the half was a potent one as Johnson and McClean combined to devastating effect once more.

The former's ball across the box to the Irish winger was half-intercepted, but McClean seized possession, steadied himself and kept his cool before sweeping the ball home with his weaker right foot.

It was a fine finish by the youngster, who seems to be beginning where he left off last season in front of goal.

The all-important second strike was the signal for O'Neill to withdraw Fletcher, who received a standing ovation as he was replaced by home debutant Saha.

McClean nearly sealed a hat-trick with his last touch of the game – a rising blast which flashed just wide – before being replaced by Fraizer Campbell with 17 minutes remaining.

Johnson was also chasing a treble – of assists – and almost cashed in as his deft cross was turned towards goal by the twisting Saha only for Roche to gather at close range.

And the keeper denied Saha again right at the last, producing a fine diving save to keep out the former Manchester United man's header from another Johnson cross.

Sunderland: Westwood, Gardner, Colback, Bramble, O'Shea, Cattermole (C) (Meyler, 79), Larsson, McClean (Campbell, 73), Johnson, Sessegnon, Fletcher (Saha, 67).

Subs Not Used: Kilgallon, Cuellar, Elmohamady, Mignolet.

Booked: McClean (13), Cattermole (55).

Sent Off: None.

Morecambe: Roche, Parrish, Threlfall, Haining (C), Fenton, Fleming, McDonald, Wright, Reid (Ellison, 60), Alessandra (Redshaw, 72), Brodie (Carlton, 60).

Subs Not Used: Arestidou, Burrow, McCready, Drummond.

Booked: None.

Sent Off: None.