Sunderland beat MK Dons 2 – 1 at the SOL on Saturday although the victory ended up proving hard fought. The lads had raced into a two goal lead in the first half thanks to stunning strikes from Max Power and Luke O’Nien and should have been further ahead before the break after a dominating display. However a goal from George Williams midway through the second half turned the tide and Sunderland had to dig out the victory with some solid defending as well as overcoming some poor officiating.
Jack Ross made six changes to the side that drew with Bolton in our last league outing with Jon McLaughlin starting between the sticks behind a back four of McLaughlin, Willis, Lynch and DeBock. In midfield was Power and McGeouch while slightly further up the pitch O’Nien, Gooch and Maguire looked to support lone frontman Charlie Wyke.
We got the game underway kicking towards the Roker end and immediately went on the attack down the right but McLaughlin's cross was headed clear. Soon after Charlie Wyke steamed through on goal but the keeper got out quickly to block his effort.
Just after ten minutes O’Nien was cautioned after he clattered the MK Dons left back with a late challenge as Sunderland tried hard to press. Sunderland then carved out a good opening with McLaughlin playing a ball down the right channel for Maguire who did well to beat his man and cross but Wyke couldn’t get on the end of it at the front post. At the other end the visitors forced a couple of corners but the lads defended them well.
After twenty minutes we forced a corner after good work by Maguire which was well worked to fashion a shooting chance for Power but his low effort from the edge of the box was blocked. A minute later though Sunderland took the lead when Power unleashed an unstoppable curling shot into the top corner from the angle of the box. It was a sensational strike from the midfielder with the keeper beat by the swerve and power of the strike.
We almost grabbed a second straight after when O’Nien headed off the woodwork before Max Power tried again from range though this time his effort was deflected wide for a corner. The lads almost scored again from Maguire’s set piece with him finding O’Nien at the front post but the keeper did well to parry his glancing effort. O’Nien did get on the score sheet as Sunderland laid siege on the visitors goal and the midfielder did brilliantly to chip the keeper lifting a volley off the inside of the post. An MK Dons defender tried to clear but the linesman signalled that the ball had crossed the line as for once Sunderland made their dominance tell.
Sunderland almost had a third five minutes before half time when Lynden Gooch capitalised on a loose pass on the edge of the box but he drove his left foot effort across goal. Just before half time there was a flashpoint on the half way line after Max Power was clattered. There was a skirmish as he got to his feet with the perpetrator before the MK Don’s player lashed out and Power hit the deck clutching his face. The incident took place right in front of the dugout’s and fourth official but the ref choose to book the MK Dons player and the Power for arguing.
The visitors forced a corner at the end of the half with McLaughlin doing well to turn a low shot round the post and the lads defended it well to go in at the break with their two goal lead intact. Neither side made any changes at the break and Sunderland forced an early corner after McLaughlin’s shot was deflected wide. The corner was taken short before Gooch was upended on the edge of the box and the ref awarded a free kick but Maguire blazed it over.
The lads continued to dominate and Gooch saw an effort cleared off the line after he was found unmarked at the back post before Power forced a corner with a decent volley tipped wide by the keeper and the visitors eventually cleared their lines.
Totally against the run of play the visitors clawed a goal back through William’s who nodded the ball into the net after a mix up in the Sunderland backline as we struggled to deal with a deep cross. Sunderland’s players wanted a foul after Lynch was bundled over but the ref awarded the goal. The goal breathed life into the visitors who and McLaughlin had to do well to turn a shot round the post before the corner was taken short and eventually skied over the bar.
With half an hour remaining Ross made his first change with Denver Hume replacing Laurens DeBock who had played well but was lacking match fitness. Sunderland almost had a third after good work from Gooch on the left who teed up Maguire but he struck his effort over the bar. At the other end McLaughlin had to make a save from a header after McLaughlin was out jumped from a cross as the visitors kept pushing for an equaliser.
Jack Ross made his second change ten minutes from time with Will Grigg replacing Charlie Wyke as the Scot tried to freshen Sunderland up with the visitors in the ascendancy. Grigg did ok when he came on harrying defenders whilst Sunderland did well defensively with Lynch winning everything at the back although we were constantly under the cosh. There were six minutes of injury time and in the first of these MK Dons got a decent cross in from the right but McLaughlin was equal to it.
Ross made his final change with Dobson replacing Lynden Gooch as we looked to sure up the middle and see out the victory and we did just that surviving a late MK Dons corner.
Final Score: Sunderland 2 MK Dons 1
ALS Man of the Match: Joel Lynch