Bradford City 1-2 Sunderland
Sunderland dug deep and came up with the goods on Saturday to defeat Bradford City at Valley Parade.
Josh Maja’s ninth Sky Bet League One goal of the campaign broke the deadlock, but the Bantams struck back following the interval through Anthony O’Connor.
The Lads produced an instant reply, as Jack Baldwin netted his first goal for the club, but with 25 minutes remaining Max Power was sent off and Bradford were awarded a penalty.
Jack Payne stepped up, but Jon McLaughlin had other ideas, the Scotland international flying to his right to produce a match-winning save.
Jack Ross made two changes ahead of the game, as Reece James and Lee Cattermole replaced Dylan McGeouch and the suspended Bryan Oviedo.
Both sets of fans provided a cracking atmosphere and the game started at a frenetic pace, with McLaughlin making a comfortable save before Maja volleyed wide.
Defensive heroics from Cattermole followed, as the midfielder threw himself in front of two close-range strikes before Baldwin smashed the ball clear.
The Bantams continued to carve out half-chances – Adam Matthews was next to clear the Black Cats’ lines – but the Lads could have taken the lead on 14 minutes, as Baldwin headed wide at the back post.
Thankfully, Ross’ men didn’t have to wait too much longer.
With 21 minutes on the clock, the ball dropped to Cattermole on the edge of the box and the midfielder’s volley ended up in the back of the net, with Maja applying the faintest of touches to notch his ninth of the season.
Sunderland were hungry for more and they began to dominate as time progressed, but the Bantams replied with a chance of their own as Payne fired just wide.
Aiden McGeady mustered the first attempt following the restart as Richard O’Donnell was forced to beat the winger’s thumping effort away, but with 51 minutes on the clock the Bantams levelled through O’Connor.
And although the equaliser woke up the home support, they were quickly silenced
Just two minutes later, the ball dropped to Baldwin in the box and the centre back finished with aplomb, steering a low finish into the bottom corner to restore the Lads’ advantage.
Tom Flanagan then headed against the crossbar, but after having to end Tuesday’s game with 10 men, a sense of Deja vu descended on Valley Parade with 25 minutes remaining.
An off-the-ball incident saw Power receive a straight red card and the referee pointed to the spot.
McLaughlin was the hero again, though, saving his second penalty of the campaign to deny Payne.
Bradford laid siege to the Scot’s goal in the closing stages, as the Lads’ were backed against a wall, but brave defending clinched three priceless points.
Braford City: O’Donnell, McGowan, O’Connor, Scannell, Payne, Miller (Seedorf 88), Mellor, Knight-Pervival, Wood, O’Brien (Gibson 83), Ball (Brunker 76).
Subs not used: Sykes-Kenworthy, Isherwood, Goldthorp, Wright.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Baldwin, Flanagan, Matthews, James, Cattermole, Power, McGeady (Honeyman 73), Maguire, Maja (McGeouch 70), Sinclair (Ozturk 84).
Subs not used: Ruiter, Robson, Mumba, Kimpioka.