Sunderland thrashed Scunthorpe with a first half masterclass- Sunderland remained unbeaten and moved into fourth in the League One table.
Three goals with three different scorers and a clean sheet, it was as close to you get to a perfect performance from the lads. Gooch, Power and Oviedo were the pick of the bunch, but it was a real team performance that got Sunderland the three points. Not for a long time have a Sunderland side passed it so well and been as efficient as they were today.
Sunderland returned to league action as Jack Ross’ men welcomed Scunthorpe for the first time since September 1963, where the lads came out 1-0 winners in the old Division Two.
Both sides had the same record this season, equally on four points scoring three and conceding two. The most notable change to the line-up is the inclusion of Lee Cattermole. It’s a change which will have no doubt split opinion, however, after a much-improved display against Sheffield Wednesday it was Cattermole’s chance to impress Jack Ross- and cement his place as a regular in the side.
Josh Maja, Glen Loovens, Gooch and Oviedo all returned to the starting line-up following Sunderland’s Carabao Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday. Maja with two goals from two league outings came into the match in red-hot form.
The game has come just too soon for Dylan McGeouch who is on the verge of returning but, unfortunately for Ross, didn’t make the matchday squad.
The full line up was as follows: McLaughlin, Matthews, Loovens, Baldwin, Oviedo, Power, Cattermole, Gooch, Honeyman, Maguire, Maja
The first chance of the game fell to the home side, Chris Maguire from just outside the box tried to beat Rory Watson at his near post but the Scunthorpe keeper got down well to save.
Sunderland were very fortunate not to concede a penalty just ten minutes into the game. Jack Baldwin seemed to have clearly brought down George Thomas in the box. The Scunthorpe players were livid with the referee Anthony Backhouse who didn’t bat an eyelid.
22 minutes into the game, Sunderland opened the scoring. After a fine cross from Oviedo, it found Max Power whose header was perfectly placed into the top right corner. The first goal from the Wigan loanee who finished it not quite with ‘maximum power' but incredible accuracy.
Only minutes later Sunderland were in dreamland. Josh Maja turned superbly and fired a low shot which beat Watson at his near post. The goal was very similar to his strike against Charlton, it was Maja's third goal in as many games. Sunderland were in cruise control, passing it about with confidence and playing some great stuff.
Oviedo, a man who looked almost certain to leave the club was proving everyone wrong. With two assists in the space of five minutes adding up to three overall this season. It’s a testament to his character that he hasn’t gone into exile like Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji.
What on earth has Jack Ross done with this team? He’s turned this club into a well-oiled machine. Max Power started the move with a brilliant cross-field ball to Gooch. The winger exchanged passes with Honeyman and slipped it inside to Maguire, who backheeled it into the back of the net for his first ever goal for Sunderland- it was liquid football. Sunderland finished the half 3-0 up, I’m going to repeat that 3-0!
Sunderland’s first change was a forced one and exactly what Ross didn’t want. Adam Matthews came off for Reece James to make his league debut.
From a Gooch corner, the unthinkable almost happened. Cattermole rose the highest but just couldn’t get his header on target. He had thoroughly justified Ross’s decision to pick him.
To a man Jack Ross had got his side working for each other, not once did they switch off and, their ability to press Scunthorpe and continue to play his way was exemplary.
Scunthorpe were having their best period of the game with 15 minutes to play. From a free-kick, it was floated into Charlie Goode whose header just flew over the bar.
29,876 was the official attendance, and never have a set of Sunderland fans been able to watch a game with so comfortably.
Sunderland should have made it four, after a fine ball from Oviedo it found Honeyman who perfectly headed it back to Maja, and with the goal gaping he could only hit it wide from seven-yards out.
Scunthorpe late on, came the closest they ever did to scoring on the counter. Thomas just couldn’t manage to find his captain Novak who was free in the box.
Sunderland held on for the much deserved three points and secured a massive 3-0 win for the club.
Final Score: 3-0
ALS Man of the Match: Bryan Oviedo