Sunderland 3-0 Southend United
Chris Maguire’s wonder goal crowned Sunderland’s fifth successive win on Saturday, as Southend United fell at the Stadium of Light.
After a testing opening, Lynden Gooch’s seventh assist of the season sent the Lads on their way, with George Honeyman glancing the American’s cross into the corner.
Southend dusted themselves down and responded well, but the victory received the royal seal on 53 minutes, and the red and white army very much approved.
The visitors backed off and were duly punished, as Maguire unleashed a 25-yard thunderbolt that screamed into the top corner.
And the points were wrapped up with ten minutes remaining, with Aiden McGeady’s fizzing drive found the corner.
Jack Ross named an unchanged side for the game, but the Scot’s bench was bolstered as Bryan Oviedo and Josh Maja returned to the squad.
Southend, meanwhile, handed a start to former Black Cat Michael Turner, and the visiting backline came under immediate pressure at the Stadium of Light.
With less than three minutes on the clock, Reece James whipped an inviting cross into the box and Jerome Sinclair’s header forced Mark Oxley into an acrobatic save.
The visitors responded with their first chance, as Dru Yearwood fired over the top after the Black Cats failed to clear their lines.
And Chris Powell’s side kept up the pressure, with multiple set pieces forcing Jack Baldwin and Tom Flanagan to be at their best.
A lengthy stoppage followed, as Ben Coker landed awkwardly and was subsequently stretchered off.
As the half-hour mark approached, the Lads broke the deadlock.
Relentless pressing from the frontline forced Oxley into a hurried clearance and Lee Cattermole immediately fizzed the ball wide towards Gooch.
The visitors doubled up on the USA international, but he managed to squeeze a cross between his markers, and Honeyman glanced a magnificent header across goal and into the corner.
Southend rallied but, as he has done so often this season, McLaughlin showed his class, producing a fine save to deny Harry Bunn before penalty appeals were waved away after Yearwood tripped in the box.
Both sides saw plenty of the ball following the restart, but with 53 minutes on the clock Maguire took centre stage.
The forward picked up the ball 30 yards from goal, took a couple of touches to steady himself, and unleashed an absolute rocket into the top corner to lift the roof off the Stadium of Light.
Forget goal of the month, it may well go down as the goal of the season.
Southend refused to go down without a fight and McLaughlin was forced into another smart stop to deny Simon Cox, while Gooch and substitute McGeady went close at the other end.
After coming off the bench, Maja could have wrapped it up with 15 minutes remaining, but the striker was unable to connect with McGeady’s tantalising cross.
Five minutes later, the winger decided enough was enough, though, and he slammed home an unstoppable low finish to wrap up another win for Ross’ Lads.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Flanagan, Baldwin, Matthews, James, McGeouch (McGeady 54), Cattermole, Honeyman, Maguire, Gooch (O’Nien 74), Sinclair (Maja 57).
Subs not used: Ruiter, Oviedo, Ozturk, Mumba.
Southend United: Oxley, Coker (Hendrie 21), Turner, Dieng, Cox, McLaughlin (McCoulsky 66), Yearwood (Kightly 78), Mantom, Moore, Demetriou, Bunn.
Subs not used: Bwomono, Bishop, Robinson, White.