Rotherham United 1-2 Sunderland
David Moyes watched from the stands as Sunderland notched a 2-1 win at Rotherham United on Saturday afternoon.
And the Glaswegian, who was appointed as the club’s new manager just five hours before kick-off, will have been pleased by what he saw as a sun-soaked New York Stadium provided a fitting backdrop for a feisty encounter.
Sunderland dominated large spells of the opening 45 minutes and they were duly rewarded when Fabio Borini volleyed home the opening goal, but within 60 seconds of the restart they were caught cold as Jerry Yates lashed the ball home.
Both sides created chances during an even second period with a number of the club’s under-23 regulars offered a chance to impress, and although they did just that it was Charles N’Zogbia who made the difference with the midfielder’s late goal ensuring a second successive pre-season win.
With Moyes a keen observer, Paul Bracewell and Robbie Stockdale took charge of proceedings and despite making a number of changes the Black Cats’ starting XI was a strong one.
Wahbi Khazri and Fabio Borini once again flanked Jermain Defoe with Jeremain Lens, Charles N’Zogbia and Jack Rodwell starting in midfield.
A packed-out away end in South Yorkshire greeted Moyes with a chorus of cheers as he took to his seat in the directors’ box, with the new Sunderland boss sharing a smile and a wave with the red and white army.
The first moment of note on the pitch came within the opening three minutes as Anthony Forde chipped a cross towards the back post, but despite rising above Lamine Kone striker Danny Ward was unable to direct his header on target.
Sunderland mustered their first attempts soon after as Borini’s drilled effort was blocked before Patrick van Aanholt’s follow-up was deflected behind.
Defoe, who bagged a brace against Hartlepool United, was next to threaten as his attempted lob skimmed to safety following a brilliant ball over the top from Rodwell.
With 30 minutes played Sunderland’s dominance paid off.
N’Zogbia engineered the opportunity, lofting a ball into the path of Borini and the Italian did the rest, taking the chance early with a venomous half-volley squirming past Lee Camp.
The Millers battled hard and following the opening goal they stepped up their attacking efforts, with former Black Cat Greg Halford forcing Jordan Pickford into action.
And despite being forced into two changes towards the end of the opening 45 minutes, Rotherham continued to settle into their rhythm with Ward beating Pickford to a looping ball only to see his header clear the crossbar.
Sunderland made one change at the break with Vito Mannone replacing Pickford, and the Italian’s first task was to pick the ball out of the net as Yates capatalised on the Black Cats’ failure to clear and levelled within 60 seconds of the restart.
Rotherham’s ascendancy continued and their new-found intensity caused the Black Cats problems, with Mannone intervening after Younes Kaboul almost sliced the ball over the ‘keeper and into the net.
Duncan Watmore’s arrival – in place of Borini – added fresh legs to the Sunderland attack with Lynden Gooch replacing Khazri shortly after, and the young duo added fresh impetus to the Black Cats’ attack with a number of surging runs peppering the Millers defence.
Further changes saw George Honeyman and Michael Ledger also entering the fray, but it was N’Zogbia who once again found that cutting edge with a well-taken 20-yard strike sending Sunderland back into the lead with six minutes remaining.
Rotherham had the chance to level in added time when Yates’ clever effort drifted narrowly wide, but the Millers were unable to find a way back onto level terms and Sunderland closed out the win.
Rotherham United: Camp, Kelly, Mattock (Thorpe 38), Halford (Forster-Caskey 42), Broadfoot, Wood, Forde, Frecklington (Dawson 69), Ward, Yates, Smallwood (Bailey-King 77).
Sunderland: Pickford (Mannone 46), J Robson, Kone (E Robson 84), Kaboul (Ledger 77), van Aanholt, Rodwell, N’Zogbia, Lens (Greenwood 88), Khazri (Gooch 64), Borini (Watmore 55), Defoe (Honeyman 75).