MK Dons 0-1 Sunderland AFC
A Lynden Gooch wonder strike sealed victory at MK Dons on Saturday, as Sunderland extended their unbeaten run to seven games.
The Lads enjoyed the better of the play in the first 45, but they failed to edge in front and Alim Ozturk spurned the best opportunity of the half.
Successive goalline clearances following the restart had Sunderland heads in hands, but Phil Parkinson’s men stuck to their task and eventually got their reward.
With 11 minutes on the clock, Gooch took aim and found his target, dispatching a stunning winner into the top corner to ensure a third successive win.
Parkinson made one change from the side that dismantled Wycombe Wanderers one week ago, as Tom Flanagan, who came off at half-time against the leaders, dropped to the bench and was replaced by Joel Lynch.
New signing Kyle Lafferty was named on the bench, while the home side were forced into a late change, as Alex Gilbey dropped out following the warm-up and David Kasumu stepped into the starting XI.
After a confident start, the Lads should have taken the lead on 12 minutes.
Chris Maguire’s free-kick picked out an unmarked Luke O’Nien and he headed the ball across goal, but with the goal at his mercy, Ozturk bundled a golden opportunity wide.
MK Dons’ first real opening arrived midway through the first half, as Ryhs Healey’s effort flashed inches wide after the slightest of touches from Jon McLaughlin.
Russell Martin’s side continued to turn the screw, but fortune favoured the Black Cats, as Healey’s next effort was blocked by a team-mate.
The opening 45 petered out, but Parkinson’s side started on the front foot following the restart, as O’Nien bundled the ball just wide before Maguire fired off target.
With 50 minutes played, defensive heroics ensured it remained level, with Gooch and Charlie Wyke left to rue what might have been following successive goalline clearances.
Chances continued to fall to those in red and white, but Lee Nicholls produced a goal-saving moment of his own to claw Maguire’s pinpoint free-kick out of the top corner.
The Scot continued to look like the mostly likely scoring source, picking out O’Nien who headed wide at the back post.
But the Dons fired a warning shot on 65 minutes, as Dean Lewington – on his 750th appearance for the club – rifled a 25-yard bullet inches wide.
As time ticked away, Ozturk made a stunning interception to recovery and thwart Healey, with Lafferty called upon as the game started to open up.
The Northern Ireland international enjoyed a lively introduction, winning his first aerial battle before placing a 20-yard effort over the crossbar.
Two minutes later, the deadlock was broken – and what a goal it was.
After picking up the ball and setting himself, Gooch dispatched an incredible 25-yard curler beyond the reach of Nicholls and into the top corner.
The USA international roared towards the travelling 4,500, as a sea of red and white cascaded around Stadium MK.
It should have been two on 83 minutes, but Ozturk headed over from six yards.
However, it didn’t matter in the end, as Gooch’s stunner made it three wins from three, and seven unbeaten for the red and whites.
MK Dons: Nicholls, Williams, Lewington, Walsh, Kasumu (Thompson 63), Healey, McGrandles (Gladwin 72), Mason, Morris, Houghton, Brittain.
Subs not used: Moore, Poole, Moore-Taylor, Nombe, Cargil.
Sunderland AFC: J McLaughlin, Lynch, Willis, Ozturk, Power, Maguire, Wyke (Lafferty 76), Gooch, O’Nien, Dobson, Hume.
Subs not used: Burge, C McLaughlin, McNulty, Flanagan, Watmore, Leadbitter.