Oxford United 0-2 Sunderland AFC
Phil Parkinson’s Sunderland secured an impressive away win at Oxford United on Saturday to earn their first victory of the 2020-21 Sky Bet League One season.
Bailey Wright struck the crossbar with five minutes on the clock, but the home side responded and a combative opening 45 minutes ended level.
Luke O’Nien’s snapshot fired the Lads into the lead less than two minutes after the restart, and they were far from content and continued to ramp up the pressure.
Aiden O’Brien went close on two occasions and substitute Josh Scowen was also denied, but it was a fine solo effort from Lynden Gooch that sealed the points.
The USA international conquered all before him and capped off a mazy run with a smooth finish, ensuring victory for the boys in blue.
Parkinson made two changes for the Kassam Stadium showdown, as Grant Leadbitter replaced the suspended George Dobson and Danny Graham led the line in place of Will Grigg.
The defence remained unchanged and it was one of the backline that threatened first, with Wright’s floated header coming back off the crossbar after five minutes.
Oxford volleyed back with their first sight at goal before the ten-minute mark, but Lee Burge did well to deny Liam Kelly from close range after Mark Sykes’ header looped just off target.
The Lads continued to probe and Chris Maguire struck a 25-yard free-kick straight into the wall, as the U’s opted for an aerial bombardment – to no avail – when they broke into the final third.
After cancelling each other out for much of the opening 45, Karl Robinson’s men spurned a glorious chance to edge in front moments before the interval.
A driving run from Rob Atkinson turned defence into attack and he rolled a finely weighted ball into the path of Sam Long, but the midfielder’s low effort was saved by Burge.
O’Nien also saw an effort blocked before the whistle sounded, but there was no stopping the wing back after the restart.
Less than two minutes after the action resumed, Denver Hume broke down the left and the ball broke to O’Nien, who drilled a first-time effort into the far corner.
Parkinson’s men continued to surge forward and could have been out of sight by the hour mark, as Aiden O’Brien twice went close and the red and white wing backs wreaked havoc.
Scowen, Wyke and Gooch were called upon as the game entered its final throws, with the forward bamboozling the Oxford defence before firing into the corner ten minutes from time.
Sunderland AFC: Burge, Flanagan, Willis, Wright, Power (Scowen 62), Maguire, O'Brien (Gooch 78), O'Nien, Graham (Wyke 70), Leadbitter, Hume.
Substitutes: McLaughlin, Xhemajli, Matthews, Grigg.