Shrewsbury Town 0-2 Sunderland
Lynden Gooch came off the bench to inspire Sunderland to victory against Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.
A balanced opening 45 minutes ensured the sides went into half-time level, but early changes from Jack Ross tipped the scales in the Black Cats’ favour.
Gooch came off the bench with 53 minutes on the clock, and by the hour mark the Lads led, with Omar Beckles turning the forward’s cross into his own net.
The American spurned a great chance to make it 2-0 soon after, but he supplied the ammunition for Luke O’Nien late on, as the midfielder’s first goal clinched a hard-fought win.
Ross was forced into one change at the New Meadow, as Scotland international Dylan McGeouch replaced the suspended Max Power.
And Sunderland started on the front foot in front of a thunderous away following.
After winning an early corner through Jerome Sinclair, the Lads kept up the pressure as Lee Cattermole’s effort was charged down before Chris Maguire was clipped just outside the box.
Successive corners followed but Shrewsbury showed their resilience, surviving an early aerial bombardment to deny Ross’ side an early advantage.
The Salop might have edged in front themselves before the ten-minute mark, though, with Beckles powering a header over the crossbar.
Play calmed down in the stages that followed, with a scrappy midfield battle ensuing as both sides struggled to carve out clear-cut chances.
But the game exploded into life after the half-hour mark, as Cattermole steamed in at the back post and volleyed Sinclair’s looping cross over the bar.
Moments later, the woodwork came to Sunderland’s rescue Shaun Whalley’s free-kick evaded everyone and bounced up onto the crossbar.
Luke Waterfall somehow fired the rebound over the top, albeit the flag was raised for offside, and it was honours even at the break.Neither side made a change at the break, but with 53 minutes played Ross shuffled his pack, as Gooch made his return to action.
George Honeyman followed the USA international into battle three minutes later, and the duo made an instant impact.
The captain quickly won a free-kick which was turned behind, and from the resulting corner, Gooch’s cross was plundered into his own net by Beckles.
Sunderland grew in confidence after taking the lead, but Beckles almost atoned for his error with 65 minutes on the clock, as the defender’s header whistled wide.
It was a wake-up call for the Lads as the home side showed they wouldn’t go down without a fight.
However, Gooch should have delivered a knockout blow with 19 minutes remaining.
After great persistence from Sinclair, the forward was just unable to direct his header on target after Reece James whipped an inviting ball into the six-yard box.
But another change let to another goal, and the points were wrapped up with five minutes remaining.
Just seconds after coming off the bench, O’Nien drilled a terrific finish beyond Joel Coleman with his second touch, as Gooch supplied his second assist.
We’re on our way!
Shrewsbury Town: Coleman, Emmanuel, Sadler, Beckles, Whalley (Norburn 77), Doherty, Angol, Gilliead (Haynes 69), Waterfall, Laurent (Amadi-Holloway 69), Grant.
Subs not used: Arnold, Okenabirhie, Bolton, Barnett.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Flanagan, Baldwin, Matthews, James, Cattermole, McGeouch, Maguire, McGeady (Honeyman 56), Maja (Gooch 53), Sinclair (O’Nien 82).
Subs not used: Ruiter, Ozturk, Mumba, Kimpioka.