Sunderland AFC 1-2 MK Dons
Sunderland were defeated 2-1 by Milton Keynes Dons at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Just two points separated the sides heading into the game and it showed in the first 45 minutes, as the opening period ended all square.
MK Dons broke the deadlock three minutes after the restart through Mo Eisa, who steadied himself before rolling a cool finish beyond Anthony Patterson.
Leon Dajaku spurned an excellent opportunity to provide an immediate response, but Elliot Embleton’s arrival sparked a reply before the hour mark as Ross Stewart headed home.
The Lads continued to push forward after restoring parity, but former Black Cat Connor Wickham scored the winner just four minutes after his introduction.
Alex Neil made two changes ahead of his Wearside debut, as Corry Evans and Leon Dajaku replaced Trai Hume and Clarke in the starting XI.
Sunderland crafted the first opening through Alex Pritchard, albeit an offside flag rendered it mute.
The midfielder left several MK Dons players trailing in his wake before sliding the ball into Stewart, who fired straight at on-loan Chelsea goalkeeper Jamie Cumming.
At the other end, Patterson was tested for the first time on 12 minutes when Eisa cut inside and slammed an effort at goal from a tight angle.
Evans and Josh McEachran both collected yellow cards before the halfway point of the first 45, with Patterson forced into action again on the half-hour mark to deny Troy Parrott.
Stewart towered to head a Pritchard corner just wide before the break to wrap up the first-half action, as it remained goalless on Wearside at the interval.
Parity didn’t last long after the restart, though, as MK Dons went ahead through Eisa’s well-taken finish.
Sunderland responded well and should have struck back immediately, but Dajaku fired high and wide when the ball broke to him inside the box.
Neil made a double change with 55 minutes on the clock, as Elliot Embleton and Clarke replaced Dan Neil and Dajaku.
The former quickly took centre stage as the Lads levelled, sending a fabulous cross into the box which was glanced into the corner by Stewart.
Clarke also impressed on the right flank, flying past his man before fizzing a low ball into Stewart who was just unable to bring it under his spell.
Wickham made his Wearside return with 18 minutes remaining and the striker made his mark four minutes later, providing the finish after being played through by Parrott to leave the Black Cats empty-handed.
Sunderland AFC: Patterson, Wright, Doyle, Winchester, Cirkin, Evans (Roberts 78), Neil (Embleton 55), Matete, Pritchard, Dajaku (Clarke 55), Stewart.
Subs not used: Hoffmann, Defoe, Xhemajli, Hume.
MK Dons: Cumming, O’Hora, Darling, Lewington, Watson, Coventry, McEachran (Kasumu 62), Harvie, Parrott, Eisa (Wickham 72), Twine.
Subs not used: Ravizzoli, Smith, Corbeanu, Boateng, Hayden.