Lynden Gooch’s 96th-minute goal sealed an opening day victory as the Black Cats came from behind to get the three points. If a game could ever sum up Sunderland that was it. As expected Sunderland started the game slow, but it was a tale of two halves and the lads managed to get the victory with goals from Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch.
It’s has been a summer of mass change, with several players making their full league debuts. As well as the players, it was finally time for the fans to see what Jack Ross's new team could achieve as he made his first outing as manager.
After years of misery and defeat finally, there was optimism in the air and travelling to the stadium you could feel the change in atmosphere.
For Jack Ross first ever competitive line-up, he put huge faith in 16-year-old Bali Mumba who made his first ever league start. There were four more debuts with new signings: Stephen McLaughlin, Alim Oztruk, Luke O'Nien and Chris Maguire all getting the nod.
For the first game of the season the full line up was as follows:
McLaughlin, Love, Ozturk, Loovens, Matthews, O'Nien, Mumba, Gooch, Honeyman, Maguire, Maja.
In front of a thirty thousand plus crowd, the lads looked to get off to a bright start. Sunderland in only the clubs second ever League One season, began as Luke O'Nien kicked things off, accompanied by a mighty roar from the home support.
Nine minutes in following a Sunderland attack Charlton countered and Chris Maguire tracking back conceded a penalty, he did in fact trip, Karlan Grant. Lyle Taylor stepped up and hit it high into the top right corner, past McLaughlin who did dive the right way, but it was too powerful for the Scot.
After a relatively even opening, it was exactly the start that Jack Ross did not want, and of course, it had to be Taylor, the man who turned down the chance to be a part of Ross's team earlier this transfer window.
Fifteen minutes in, Charlton were asserting themselves as the dominant side. They looked quicker and sharper to every ball. It was evident that the Black Cats were struggling with the pace of the game. Ozturk who had been injured recently was clearly struggling.
After some good work down the right-hand side by Grant on 25 minutes, he played inside to Darren Pratley who in acres of space fired a shot from 25 yards. His goal-bound effort was well saved by McLaughlin.
Sunderland were seriously struggling in defence and after a nothing ball in from the left, Glenn Loovens miss controlled and played it straight to George Lapsile whose shot was very tame, much to the relief of Loovens.
After much pre-match hope and optimism, the atmosphere in stands was starting to ebb away with Charlton asserting themselves as the better side for large periods of the match.
It took until the 42 minutes for Sunderland to register a shot on target, with Oviedo having a pop from 30 plus yards. That just about summed up Sunderland’s attacking efforts.
On the stroke of halftime time Sunderland should have been level. Maguire’s shot come cross fell straight to Josh Maja but, he hesitated, as he made one too many touches. He allowed Dillon Phillips to close the angle and save the effort.
Sunderland looked a changed side in the opening five of the second half. There was more pace and energy with Gooch and substitute Sinclair involved. What was lacking, however, was the final ball to release the likes of Maja and Maguire.
After 65 minutes and the moment all Sunderland fans were waiting for. Josh Maja turned brilliantly and fired it into the back of the net. Matthew’s fed it into the striker's feet who hit it low past Phillips. The Charlton stopper might feel he should have done better. It was at his near post, but the power just managed to beat the keeper.
Boy, have I missed seeing thirty thousand Sunderland fans leap to the air as one. The goal came from next to nothing and it was exactly what Jack Ross needed from his side- a bit of quality!
77 minutes in, from a Maguire free-kick Sunderland almost took the lead. His in-swinging kick was well saved by Phillips who had to be at full stretch to deny the former Bury forward.
Sinclair who came onto the field at the break had a huge influence on the game and added that extra bit of pace and energy which the Black Cats were seriously lacking.
Sunderland looked polar opposite to the side who struggled and looked slow in the first half. The crowd could sense a change in the air and it was now Sunderland who were in the dominant.
With six minutes left Sinclair had a glorious chance to win it, after a fine ball in from Oviedo the Watford loanee slid in but poked his effort wide of the post, from six yards out.
Deep into injury time the roof of the Stadium Of Light flew off. Following a corner it fell to Oviedo who supplied a brilliant cross, which found Lynden Gooch at the back post. His flying header was too much for keeper Phillips who had no chance.
Final Score: 2-1
ALS Man of The Match: Lynden Gooch