Sunderland turned up the temperature at a freezing cold SOL beating Southend United 3 – 0 on Saturday to move within a point of the promotion places and extend their winning streak to four games. A first half header from George Honeyman and a pair of second half thunderbolts from King Chris Maguire and Aiden McGeady sealed the points for Jack Ross’ side who also kept another clean sheet.
The lads went in the game aiming to record their fourth league win in a row but their first at home after picking up three victories on the road since the draw at the SOL with Peterborough at the start of the month. As well as picking up maximum points the last two victories also saw the lads keep clean sheets which is something what has hampered us slightly in the opening stage of the season.
Southend headed to Wearside in decent enough form and finding themselves sat in ninth in the league they have an eye on promotion and the playoffs. Jack Ross welcomed back to the squad Bryan Oviedo from suspension whilst Josh Maja was also pushing for a return after an ankle knock although Max Power remained suspended. Southend managed by Chris Powell included former Sunderland defender Michael Turner at the heart of their defence.
Jack Ross made no changes to the side that beat Doncaster on Tuesday but Oviedo and Maja both returned to the bench.
Prior to kick off wreaths were laid and their was a minutes silence as part of the remembrance celebrations the visitors got the game underway kicking towards the North Stand . We had a great chance in the opening five minutes when a cross from the left found Sinclair but the keeper did well to tip it away from the top corner. Southend had a chance cleared off the line soon after when Sunderland failed to clear a corner then the loose ball was clipped over the bar. The visitors were having the better of the game since Sunderland’s early chance and Turner was next to have an opening but he headed wide from a set piece.
On fifteen minutes there was a lengthy delay after the Southend left back turned awkwardly and injured his knee and required the stretcher to leave the field. We took the lead after half an hour with a brilliantly worked goal from George Honeyman. Jerome Sinclair was almost gifted a chance when the Southend defender almost sold the keeper short with a back pass but he managed to clear but only as far as Cattermole. Cattermole then switched the play with a fine ball out to Gooch on the right wing who curled in a cross which Honeyman glanced into the bottom corner.
Jon McLaughlin then had to be at his best to make a good save after the visitors broke down the left and then Baldwin did well to stifle the rebound before a wild shot was blazed over the bar. Five minutes before the break Southend were furious when they thought they should have had a penalty after a rash lunge from Flanagan but the ref deemed that he got the ball. There was five minutes of injury time after the injury and Southend forced a couple of corners but McLaughlin held a looping header.
Neither side made any changes at the break but it was Sunderland who doubled their lead five minutes after the restart when The King produced an absolute stunner. Maguire picked the ball up 30 or so yards from goal and unleashed an unstoppable thunderbolt which rifled into the top left hand corner of the net. Jack Ross then made a couple of quick fire subs first Aiden McGeady replaced McGeouch and then five minutes later Josh Maja replaced Sinclair.
With half an hour to go McLaughlin had to produce another excellent save to deny Southend after a cross from the left wing. Sunderland kept the pressure on and we won a free kick on the edge of the box after a good run by Gooch but McGeady’s free kick hit the wall and went out for a corner which the visitor's cleared.
Ross made his final change with fifteen minutes remaining with O'Nien replacing Gooch. Five minutes later Sunderland scored their third with another emphatic strike this time from Aiden McGeady. McGeady found himself in space after good work from Maja and McGeady drove goalwards and powered a shot which the keeper couldn’t prevent finding the bottom right hand corner.
Sunderland saw out the game convincingly and could have added to their lead had O'Nien played a better ball to Maguire in injury time.
Final Score: Sunderland 3 Southend 0
ALS Man of the Match: Lee Cattermole