Sunderland sealed a trip to Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy final to face Portsmouth with a comfortable win over Bristol Rovers.
Will Grigg got the scoring underway at the end of the first half and only two minutes into the second half Lewis Morgan got the second to send the lads to Wembley. It’s now time to book the hotels and think about cheesy chips on Wembley way again.
Sunderland were back again at the Memorial Stadium for the second time in ten days looking to gain a similar result and get the lads to Wembley.
Jack Ross made two changes to the team as Lee Cattermole dropped out for Max Power and Adam Matthews came in at left back for Reece James.
It was surprisingly few changes to the normal Checkatrade squad with no U23 players and squad players such as Robbin Ruiter and Alim Ozturk had to settle for a place on the bench.
The team selection just showed how serious Ross was taking this game and giving the fans a chance to go the home of football once again.
Sunderland had the first effort of the game as Aiden McGeady cut in brilliantly from the left and his shot/cross had to be well saved by the Rovers keeper Jack Bonham.
The opening 15 was a cagey affair with neither side going all guns blazing. Sunderland were still working out how to break down the hosts, and despite not having any chances Rovers had most of the possession in the early stages.
Bristol Rovers came close to breaking the deadlock as McLaughlin parried Jonson Clarke-Harris’ shot and there was a sense of confusion as Jimmy Dunne left it and McLaughlin left it for each other – Stuart Sinclair pounced on the loose ball, but McLaughlin did well to recover and stop the shot.
The hosts were pressing well and were growing into the half as it went on, they were starting to look a real threat going forward.
Sunderland took the lead minutes before the break; Max Power played a great through ball to Will Grigg who turned and fired expertly into the far corner to break the deadlock.
That is exactly the sort of chance you’d expect Grigg to take and he did it so well. He’s not had the best time in front of goal so far, but he took his goal brilliantly.
Seconds before the half Sunderland suffered a big blow as George Honeyman was brought off with an injury for Lynden Gooch. He landed awkwardly as he was fouled and tried to play on but was clearly in too much discomfort.
Less than two minutes into the second half the lads doubled the lead, Sunderland had come out of the traps flying and Gooch’s shot was parried and fell to Lewis Morgan who managed to get on the end of it and finished past Bonham for his first goal for the club.
Soon after, the travelling fans sang out Que Sera Sera and were now less than 40 minutes from a trip to Wembley.
Power was a having a great game in the midfield and almost made it 3-0 with a thunderous effort, but sadly it was straight at Bonham in the Rovers goal.
Sunderland were on top and clearly enjoying themselves, Ross’ men were looking to end the game as a contest and get a third.
Rovers weren’t going to give up without a fight and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis’s shot was fired towards the near post, but McLaughlin did well to tip it behind for a corner.
From the resulting corner Power cleared it behind in an unusual way as he looked to handle it as he didn’t seem to know where to put his hands, but in truth, it would have been harsh penalty call.
The lads had little defending to do and dealt with what Rovers could throw at them and were comfortable in controlling the game.
With almost the last kick of the game Bonham passed it to Power and he should have scored as he was through on goal, but it didn’t matter as the lads are going to Wembley.
Full Time: Bristol Rovers 0-2 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Max Power