Sunderland produced their best performance of the season to demolish the league leaders Wycombe Wanderers 4 – 0 in a wind swept SOL on Saturday. A first half blitz from Phil Parkinson’s side saw the lads race into a three goal lead thanks to goals from Charlie Wyke, Denver Hume and Chris Maguire. Maguire then produced a spectacular effort in the second half from a free kick to seal a convincing win which sees the lads climb the table to the dizzy heights of 6th in the table and the playoff places.
After last weekend's convincing victory over Lincoln City Phil Parkinson’s side faced a sterner test as table toppers Wycombe Wanderers headed to Wearside. Having picked up form in recent weeks and with the visitors losing form the lads went into the game as favourites though since being relegated to League One Sunderland's record against Gareth Ainsworth's side is poor having drew twice last season and lost in Phil Parkinson’s first game as manager this season.
With January in full flow Sunderland have been linked with numerous potential additions though the first official signing was made last night with Kyle Lafferty penning a short term contract – although the deal was signed too late to feature against Wycombe. Another forward, Gary Madine, was also rumoured to have held talks with Phil Parkinson after having his contract torn up at Cardiff. Meanwhile Dylan McGeouch left the club for Aberdeen having struggled to make an impact on Wearside whilst Parkinson stated in his pre match press conference that there had been no firm offers for outcast Aiden McGeady yet.
The manager had no fresh injury concerns although Luke O’Nien and Joel Lynch had struggled with illness at the start of the week but were expected to be available. As expected Parkinson named an unchanged aide keeping faith in the same team that won last week.
Wycombe got the game underway kicking towards the North Stand but we quickly dealt with a long ball forward with the strong winds immediately evident The visitors then worked the ball over to the right flank but McLaughlin was out quickly to gather a low cross at the front post. Wycombe then had a half chance when a ball in the box dropped to Wheeler but his shot deflected wide for a corner which we managed to scramble clear.
The lads then took the lead just after the five minute mark thanks to a well worked move which saw Charlie Wyke find the back of the net. Luke O’Nien sprayed a cross field ball from the right flank to Denver Hume on the left who took a great touch and surged into the box. Hume skipped a challenge and then found Lynden Gooch who in turn squared to Charlie Wyke on the edge of the six yard box to stab the ball home. Wyke almost doubled the lead soon after when he nodded goal wards from O’Nien's right wing cross but his header clipped the outside of the post.
Sunderland did double their lead after fifteen minutes with Denver Hume grabbing his first goal in red and white stripes. It was another brilliant goal from Sunderland with a fantastic passage of one touch football down the right wing involving Maguire, O’Nien and then Willis who delivered a great cross into the box which Gooch dummied allowing Hume to side foot into the bottom right hand corner.
We were then awarded a penalty to round off a frantic opening twenty minutes after Gooch was fouled off the ball in the box by Stewart. Chris Maguire, on penalty duty, made no mistake from the spot sending the keeper the wrong way and putting the lads three up. Sunderland were relentless pressing forward and almost added to their lead after Ozturk lobbed Maguire’s corner back to Flanagan who took a composed touch and saw his excellent volley denied by a combination of the keeper and the bar.
Wycombe made a change after half an hour with Akinfenwa replacing Phillips as Gareth Ainsworth tried to thwart Sunderland’s dominance. The big frontman did have a header saved by McLaughlin at the front post after a cross from the left but it was a fairly tame effort. Jordan Willis should have scored at the other end when he had a free header from a Chris Maguire corner but he glanced at wide. We fashioned another great chance soon after when Willis turned provider but his cross was headed wide by Wyke.
Sunderland didn’t add to their lead before the break but were forced into a change at half time with Lynch replacing the presumably injured Flanagan. We had an early chance after Gooch found space on the left hand side of the box but his shot was off target. A couple of minutes later Gooch then turned provider crossing towards Wyke but be poked the ball wide on the stretch.
With half an hour remaining Gooch again forced the keeper into a smart stop with a shot from the left before at the other end the visitors won a free kick which Charlie Wyke rose highest too to clear. With twenty minutes remaining Joel Lynch was shown a yellow card for a foul on the edge of the box but Sunderland cleared the danger from the free kick for a corner which we also dealt with.
Charlie Wyke, who had a great showing, then won a free kick on the edge of the box with fifteen minutes left after a great piece of skill resulted in him being fouled. Maguire produced a fantastic free kick from twenty five yards which clipped the bar before bouncing into the roof of the net for Sunderland’s fourth of the afternoon. Parkinson then made his second with Gooch replaced by McNulty. There were three minutes injury time which we saw out comfortably to seal the points as Phil Parkinson’s side left the field to a well deserved standing ovation
Final Score: Sunderland 4 Wycombe Wanderers 0
ALS Man of the Match: Charlie Wyke
Ratings vs Wycombe
By Daniel McCallum
Jon McLaughlin: (7/10): Untested in the first half but made a number of crucial saves as Wycombe came forward late on.
Luke O’Nien: (6/10): Added energy on the right hand side to help keep a clean sheet and also get forward.
Jordan Willis: (8/10): Really comfortable on the ball and was able to bomb forward down the wing, putting in a good ball for Hume’s goal.
Alim Ozturk: (7/10): Did the basics well as always. Held his own against Akinfenwa’s physicality. Knows his limits and that’s good to have next to the ball-playing centre halves.
Tom Flanagan: (6/10): Solid if, not spectacular, before coming off at half time, presumably injured after going down for a while.
Denver Hume: (8/10): Got into a great position and took his goal really well. Got forward throughout and decent defensively.
Max Power: (7/10): Did a decent job of getting around the pitch in a game that largely bypassed the centre of the park.
George Dobson: (7/10): Added energy and tenacity to help us win the ball back. Forming a good partnership with Power in midfield.
Lynden Gooch: (8/10): Creative throughout and although he didn’t get a goal, did brilliantly to make the first one.
Chris Maguire: (9/10): Scored two set pieces- a well-taken penalty as well as an outstanding free kick. Barely put a foot wrong and looks back to his motivated best under Parkinson.
Charlie Wyke: (9/10): Opened the floodgates early on and got involved in the link-up play for the second. Worked so hard for the team and it was great to see him get a much deserved goal today. Really thriving under this manager.
Joel Lynch: (6/10): Looked rusty after his half time introduction but grew into the game as Wycombe put a bit of pressure on.
Marc McNulty: (5/10): N/A