Bristol Rovers 0-2 Sunderland AFC
Tell me ma, me ma, I won't be home for tea, Jack Ross’ Sunderland are going to Wembley…
Sunderland will face Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy final following a comfortable 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers on Tuesday evening.
The Lads started on the front foot, but they were made to wait for clear-cut chances, as Rovers carved out the better opportunities early on.
With 43 minutes on the clock, Sunderland’s patience was rewarded, Max Power slicing open the Rovers defence before Will Grigg provided a similarly clinical finish.
The second goal was always going to bet key and Graham Coulghan’s half-time team-talk went immediately out of the window, as Lewis Morgan pounced to double the Black Cats’ lead following the restart.
Rovers battled and refused to go down without a fight, but Sunderland reigned supreme to ensure they will be the ones heading to the capital on 31 March.
Jack Ross made just two changes to the side that defeated Plymouth Argyle in Sky Bet League One last time out, as the boss opted against risking Reece James and Lee Cattermole.
Adam Matthews and Max Power came into the side, but it was a familiar face who menaced first, with Aiden McGeady teeing up George Honeyman, who saw his first-time effort charged down.
The early pressure didn’t end there, and before the 10-minute mark the Republic of Ireland international forced Jack Bonham into a flying save before Tom Flanagan headed the resulting corner over the crossbar.
Grant Leadbitter, who controlled the midfielder throughout, was next to try his luck, but the best chance of the opening 20 minutes fell to Rovers.
After seeing the initial cross headed clear, the home side came forward again with Olli Clarke, who flashed the ball across goal where Flanagan scooped it just wide.
Brave goalkeeper from Jon McLaughlin followed as both sides looked to eke out an opening, with the Scotland international thwarting Jonson Clarke-Harris before throwing himself at the loose ball to Stuart Sinclair from converting the rebound.
As the teams entered the fray, the PA announced declared, ‘it’s time to turn up the gas’.
Unfortunately for Rovers, gas and fire make an explosive combination, and with 43 minutes on the clock, Grigg finished with aplomb after being brilliantly picked out by Max Power.
However, the half ended on a sour note, as George Honeyman, who required treatment earlier in the half, was forced off and replaced by Lynden Gooch
The American was forced to warm up during the interval and by the time the restart arrived he was raring to go, as the Lads immediately doubled their lead.
Gooch’s shot was parried, and Morgan reacted fastest to bag his first goal for the club at the perfect time.
The game opened up following the second and as Rovers searched for a route back into the game, space opened up at the back.
Power forced a save before Morgan did the same, but the home side refused to go down without a fight, as Tareiq Holmes-Denis tested McLaughlin before the ball was bundled wide at the back post.
Rovers made a triple change in an attempt to freshen things up, but the Black Cats remained a class above and they refused to be breached.
And on March 31, they are heading to Wembley!
Bristol Rovers: Bonham, Holmes-Dennis, Lockyer, Craig, Upson, Sercombe, Clarke (Kelly 70), Nichols (Jakubiak 70), Clarke-Harris, Partington, Sinclair (Lines 70).
Subs not used: Smith, Clarke, Reilly, Matthews.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Flanagan, Dunne, O’Nien, Matthews, Leadbitter, Power, Honeyman (Gooch 45), Morgan, McGeady (Watmore 74), Grigg.
Substitutes: Ruiter, Hume, Baldwin, McGeouch, Wyke.