Sunderland AFC 1-0 Southend United
Sunderland returned to winning ways at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, as Southend United were well-beaten on Wearside.
The Lads dominated throughout and their south-coast counterparts rarely troubled a resolute backline that collected a second straight clean sheet on home turf.
Luke O’Nien scored the only goal of the game midway through the opening period, as a flying header converted a pinpoint cross from the excellent Denver Hume.
To their credit, the Shrimpers hung in the game until the very end, but it was a deserved three points for the Black Cats.
Phil Parkinson made three changes from the side that exited the Carabao Cup, as O’Nien, Chris Maguire and Will Grigg returned the starting XI.
Following a impeccably observed minute’s silence, Sunderland started on the front foot in front of a lively Wearside crowd.
Testing early balls Maguire and Aiden McGeady showed the Lads’ early intent, while the latter sparked into life on 12 minutes to drift past two defenders before firing wide.
And after a period of dominance on the ball, it was Parkinson’s men that drew first blood.
Hume, who threatened moments before with a driving run, whipped a pinpoint ball into the box, and O’Nien sent a diving header into the corner.
Grigg did well to fashion the next opening after Southend failed to clear, but the striker’s effort was blocked before Maguire’s follow-up flew well-wide.
As the half-hour mark passed, the Shrimpers saw penalty shouts waved away when Simon Cox’s drive was charged down by Max Power.
The sting went out of the game as the half came to a close, but Sol Campbell’s side should have levelled before the interval when Brandon Goodship’s miskick let the Lads off the hook.
Sunderland’s full-backs continued to power forward following the restart, with Grigg narrowly heading over after connecting with a dangerous Conor McLaughlin cross.
Not to be outdone, Hume picked up the ball moments later and teased his way into the box before winning a corner, but once again, the Southend backline held firm.
Nathan Bishop had to be at his best following the hour mark, as McGeady’s low drive was pushed to safety and the visitors remained on the ropes.
And the pressure continued, with Watmore and McLaughlin combining before the latter’s cross was volleyed into Bishop’s arms by O’Nien.
Duncan Watmore and McGeady went close as time ticked away, but it didn’t matter come full-time, as O’Nien’s strike settled it.
Sunderland AFC: J McLaughlin, Willis, Lynch, C McLaughlin, Hume, Power, Dobson, O’Nien, Maguire (Watmore 62), McGeady, Grigg (McNulty 77).
Substitutes: Patterson, McGeouch, Flanagan, Leadbitter, Kimpioka.
Southend United: Bishop, Bwomono, Ralph, Milligan (Hyam 77), Dieng, Hopper (Rush 77), Cox, Goodship (Acquah 64), Shaghnessy, Lennon, Hutchinson.
Subs not used: Oxley, Ndukwu, Demetriou, Taylor.