Sunderland AFC 1-2 Doncaster Rovers
Sunderland suffered a disappointing defeat to Doncaster Rovers at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Over 38,000 supporters were in attendance on Wearside, but the carnival atmosphere was tempered early on when Reo Griffiths sent Rovers into the lead.
Tommy Rowe doubled the visitors’ advantage before the break, but nothing was given after Ross Stewart’s header appeared to cross the line on the hour mark.
Jack Clarke’s introduction breathed fresh life into Sunderland’s attack and excellent play from the on-loan Tottenham Hotspur crafted an excellent opening, but Elliot Embleton’s strike clattered the post.
In the last minute of the 90, Corry Evans prodded home, but there was no way back as the Lads were condemned to back-to-back defeats.
Sunderland’s interim coaching team made one change from last weekend’s defeat at Bolton Wanderers, as Alex Pritchard replaced Leon Dajaku in the starting XI.
The former Bayern Munich winger was joined by deadline-day signings Matete and Defoe, with the latter receiving a continuously rapturous reception from the moment he entered the Stadium of Light.
Former Black Cat Oli Younger, who moved to Doncaster in January, lined up for the visitors and spent the opening exchanges on the back foot, as Stewart and Dan Neil headed straight at Jonathan Mitchell.
However, it was Gary McSheffrey’s side that struck first on Wearside, with Griffiths providing the finish after Josh Martin set him through on goal.
Rovers almost doubled their lead when Thorben Hoffmann failed to hold a free-kick, but the German stopper regrouped to deny Joseph Olowu’s rebound at point-blank range.
Doncaster continued to push forward and Charlie Seaman fired against the post after Martins diverted wide moments before.
The Black Cats saw penalty appeals waved away before the break when Stewart toppled in the box, and the striker headed wide, but Rovers added a second in added time.
Rowe provided the finish, lashing home from inside the box as the Lads entered the break following a disappointing opening period.
No changes were made at the break and Neil crafted first opening of the second 45, but Mitchell produced a flying save to deny the midfielder.
Hoffmann was tested by Rowe at the other end and controversy followed, as Stewart’s header looked to have crossed the line only for play to be waved on.
Jack Clarke was introduced on the hour mark and made an immediate impression, leaving a trail of Doncaster defenders in his way before finding Embleton who struck the post.
Matete and Defoe quickly followed and Batth hit the post late on, before Evans struck a consolation from close range, but there was no way back for the Lads on a disappointed afternoon at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland AFC: Hoffmann, Batth, Doyle, Winchester (Clarke 61), Evans, Neil (Neil 72), Cirkin, Gooch, Pritchard, Embleton (Defoe 72), Stewart. Subs not used: Patterson, Dajaku, Matete, Hume, Roberts.
Doncaster Rovers: Mitchell, Younger, Williams, Olowu, Jackson, Smith, Rowe, Seaman, Martin (Gardner 70), Griffiths, Odubeko (Dodoo 75).
Subs not used: Jones, Knoyle, Clayton, Barlow, Agard.