Bristol Rovers 0-2 Sunderland
Sunderland’s promotion charge took another big step forward as they claimed their second win on the bounce at Bristol Rovers this afternoon.
Luke O’Nien touched home another corner from close range in the first 45 before a majestic second-half free-kick from Aiden McGeady secured the points on the road for Jack Ross’ side at the Memorial Stadium.
Next up, Plymouth Argyle…
In front of another away day sell out across all corners, Sunderland knew they would be in for another tricky encounter against a side who have lost just one of their previous 12 games in all competitions. While Rovers started the afternoon just one point above the Sky Bet League One drop zone, their upturn in form meant they had plenty to play for in the final third of the season.
Duncan Watmore returned to the starting XI as Jack Ross has made just one change to his side from Tuesday’s win over Gillingham. Chris Maguire, who fractured his fibula just 18 minutes into that match, missed out and so too did Lynden Gooch who came on in his place.
Sunderland were swiftly onto the front foot in a first half that offered very little. McGeady picked up where he left off in midweek and asked questions of Rovers’ full-backs in the early stages, clipping two crosses into the box after getting the better of Ollie Clarke.
But while very few chances were created in the opening 45, McGeady was involved in the only goal as Sunderland were once again clinical from a corner.
Grant Leadbitter opted against playing the ball into the middle and instead rolled it short to McGeady who picked out Will Grigg peeling off his man at the back stick. The Northern Ireland international made sure he got a good contact on the ball and cushioned it back across goal and into the path of the on rushing O’Nien to touch home from close range.
Bristol Rovers were full of running but caused few problems as the Lads went in at the break with a slender advantage.
However, that ‘slender advantage’ was soon doubled after the restart. A touch of pure class from McGeady saw him perfectly dispatch a free-kick from 25 yards.
Liam Sercombe was penalised for handball on the edge of his own area with 55 played, and McGeady punished him with a sensational set-piece which flew into the top corner.
From there, Rovers threw everything at Sunderland, launching ball after ball into the box. Sunderland dealt with the pressure admirably, though, and could’ve added to the scoreline had Charlie Wyke turned home Lewis Morgan’s squared ball late on.
The Black Cats held out to secure another three points and give their promotion charge some real momentum ahead of Plymouth Arglye at the Stadium of Light next Saturday.
Bristol Rovers: Bonham, Clarke (Upson, 67), Lockyer, Craig, Holmes-Dennis, Rodman, Ogogo, Clarke, Sercombe (Nichols, 83), Clarke-Harris, Reilly (Jakubiak, 56)
Subs: Smith, Partington, Sinclair, Matthews
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Flanagan, Dunne, James, O’Nien, Leadbitter, Cattermole, Honeyman, Watmore (Morgan, 67), McGeady (Power, 83), Grigg (Wyke, 75)
Subs: Ruiter, Matthews, Ozturk, McGeouch,
Attendance: 10,009 (1,408 away)