Sunderland AFC 1-2 Burton Albion
Sunderland fell to a 2-1 defeat to Burton Albion at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday evening.
The Lads struck first on Wearside through Aiden McGeady, but the winger’s spot kick was cancelled out within 60 seconds of the restart.
Phil Parkinson’s men took the game to the visitors following the restart, with Conor McLaughlin and Luke O’Nien both going close, but the Brewers edged in front on 67 minutes.
Liam Boyce provided the finish that mattered, with the Lads unable to respond.
Parkinson made two changes from the side that were held by Coventry, City as McLaughlin and Duncan Watmore replaced George Dobson and Chris Maguire.
In the middle, Grant Leadbitter made a combative start to proceedings, with the captain breaking down Burton’s attempts to attack and dictating the play.
Watmore also showed early intent, but Lucas Akins’ deflected strike registered the first effort on goal.
With 18 minutes played, Sunderland were handed a golden opportunity to draw first blood, as a clumsy challenge from John Joe-O’Toole tripped O’Nien in the box.
McGeady stepped up and sent Kieran O’Hara the wrong way, but the lead lasted just 60 seconds.
Although Lee Burge was able to keep out the initial 20-yard strike, the rebound looped into the path of Ryan Edwards and he duly headed into an empty net.
Sunderland responded well and Watmore continued to lead the change, with another lung-busting sprint leaving defenders trailing in his wake before O’Hara made a smart save.
The pendulum continued to swing back and forth before the break, but the ‘keepers refused to be beaten, as Boyce and O’Nien were denied by instinctive stops.
Following the restart, McLaughlin went within a whisker of a second when his rocket flew inches over the crossbar.
The chance signalled the Lads’ intent and the red and white army responded by issued a rallying cry of their own, as the noise levels cranked up and O’Nien fired straight at O’Hara.
However, the Lads were left to rue missed opportunities and despite a period of dominance, they fell behind on 67 minutes.
Scott Fraser delivered the opportunity on a plate, with Boyce tucking home a pinpoint cross from close range.
Moments later, Akins could, and possible should, have made it 3-1.
With the Black Cats looked to salvage something from the game, Chris Maguire and Benji Kimpioka were called upon, but it was the Brewers that continued to threaten, as Fraser clattered the woodwork.
In the end it didn't matter, as Boyce’s effort provided the difference.
Sunderland AFC: Burge, Willis, Lynch, C McLaughlin (Maguire 71), Hume, Leadbitter (Kimpioka 80), Power, O’Nien, Watmore, McGeady, Grigg.
Substitutes: J McLaughlin, Flanagan, Sammut, Ozturk, De Bock.
Burton Albion: O’Hara, Edwards, Buxton, Wallace, Quinn, Fraser, Akins, Sarkic (Templeton 64), Nartley (Daniel 71), O’Toole, Boyce (Brayford 90).
Substitutes: Sbarra, Anderson, Beardsley, Garratt.