Sunderland 5-0 Tranmere Rovers
Sunderland ran riot against Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday evening, as Phil Parkinson’s Stadium of Light bow resulted in a comfortable three points.
An electric start on Wearside saw Will Grigg strike the woodwork inside three minutes, but a glut of goals were just around the corner.
Rovers simply couldn’t cope with Duncan Watmore, and the winger opened the scoring before Chris Maguire’s sumptuous free-kick doubled the Lads’ advantage two minutes later.
Lynden Gooch added a third – and had a fourth ruled out – before the break, with Grigg grabbing a much-deserved goal before Luke O’Nien brought the red and white riot to a close.
And at the other end, a stunning save from Lee Burge ensured a first clean sheet of the League One campaign to top off a memorable evening under the Wearside lights.
Phil Parkinson has made four changes ahead of the game, with George Dobson, Gooch, Maguire and Grigg named in the starting XI.
And the Lads flew out of the traps.
With just three minutes on the clock, the Lads fired an early warning shot when Maguire teed up Grigg and the striker’s effort clattered the woodwork.
The former Wigan Athletic man remained the centre of the action early on, turning provider as Dobson’s fierce effort cannoned off a defender and behind.
Watmore whizzed down the right and flashed the ball across the face of goal soon after, but an opener was just around the corner.
Grigg engineered the move with a lovely through ball feeding Watmore, and the winger did the rest, rolling a calm finish beyond Scott Davies and into the corner.
120 seconds later, Watmore menaced again and this time Tranmere cynically, and unfairly, stopped him in his tracks – but it didn’t matter, as Maguire bent the resulting 20-yard free-kick into the corner.
Sunderland could have had a third before the half-hour mark, as Watmore fired over the top after the ball dropped in the box.
The Lads, who looked like scoring every time they entered opposition territory, grabbed a third on 40 minutes, with Gooch tapping home after Maguire and Watmore carved open the Rovers defence.
A defensive mix-up allowed the American to bundle home a fourth moments later, but this time the referee blew up to spare the visitors’ blushes.
The Lads were forced into a change shortly after the restart, as Gooch failed to shake off a knock and limped down the tunnel.
Tranmere almost found a route back into the game on 55 minutes, but a stunning save from Lee Burge tipped Stefan Payne’s goalbound header onto the woodwork.
Marc McNulty, who replaced Gooch, almost grabbed a goal of his own on the hour mark, but after jinxing his way beyond the Tranmere defence, his dinked finish sailed just over the crossbar.
Further goals eventually arrived, though, with Grigg converting from close range before O’Nien headed home in added time to complete the rout.
Sunderland: Burge, O’Nien, Willis, Lynch, Hume, Power, Dobson, Maguire, Watmore (C McLaughlin 71), Gooch (McNulty 54), Grigg (Kimpioka 89).
Subs not used: McLaughlin, Flanagan, McGeouch, Kimpioka, Leadbitter.