Gillingham (A) Report

Sunderland remained unbeaten after an emphatic 4-1 victory which sealed the clubs first away win of the season.

However, the victory wasn’t as comfortable as the score line would suggest, and the lads relied on some clinical finishing to secure the win.

Sunderland made the long journey to Kent to face Gillingham with over 2,000 fans looking to see the lads get the first away win of the season.

The two sides have only ever met eight times, with Sunderland winning five and only losing one.

Jack Ross made a few changes to the side who comfortably dispatched Scunthorpe last time out. Donald Love and Reece James replaced Bryan Oviedo and Adam Matthews who both missed out with injuries.

Dylan McGeouch started from the bench who was looking to make his much-anticipated debut for the Black Cats.

The full line up was as follows: McLaughlin, James, Love, Loovens, Baldwin, Cattermole, Power, Gooch, Honeyman, Maguire, Maja

With the first attack of the game, Gillingham took the lead. After a Luke O’Neill cross from the right-hand side, it found Tom Eaves who rose the highest and beat Jon McLaughlin. The keeper really could have been more assertive and will have been disappointed to concede such an avoidable goal.

For once, Sunderland responded perfectly and from a corner, Chris Maguire nodded it in after a Glen Loovens’ flick on.

The best was yet to come, however. From being a goal down in the first two minutes of the match Sunderland flipped the game on its head. Josh Maja who held up the ball brilliantly and laid it off to George Honeyman and Sunderland's captain fired it into the far corner past Tomas Holy, who got a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out. It was Honeyman's first goal this season and you could tell how much it meant to him.

Minutes later Sunderland scored again. Max Power received the ball from Lynden Gooch 25 yards out and expertly hit it low into the bottom corner. After a shaky start, Jack Ross’ men, had well and truly asserted themselves on the pitch, with two goals in as many minutes.

Four goals in the opening 20 minutes of the match just about sums up how mad this club is. Both Power and Maguire had scored for two consecutive games.

As the half went on, Gillingham came ever so close to getting a goal back from a corner, deep into the first half. It was flicked on by Max Ehmer to Joshua Parker who couldn’t stretch enough to tap it home at the far post.

The Gills were ending the half the stronger, and Parker came even closer to edging his side back into it, but his header was inches wide. McLaughlin was left rooted to the spot as he watched it whistle past the post.

The home side had started the second half as they ended the first, and only minutes into it should have scored. McLaughlin flapped at a cross which fell to striker Eaves, and it would have been 3-2 if it weren’t for Lee Cattermole who cleared Eaves’ chip off the line.

Sunderland could have easily conceded another goal as the home side were continuing to press. A fine ball in from the left caused McLaughlin into action, as he had to deal with the dangerous cross. The keeper needed to parry the ball away from danger and from the Gills attackers.

Against the run of play, Sunderland extended the lead. Josh Maja made it four goals in as many games. Reece James’ cross found Honeyman who did well to pick out Maja and couldn't believe how easy it was to turn and find the back of the net from five yards out.

With twenty minutes to play Sunderland brought on McGeouch for his debut, the Scotsman who got in the SPFA team of the year was brought in for his debut.

Gillingham felt massively aggrieved to not have pegged a goal back as the ball looked to have crossed the line. McLaughlin just managed to keep out Brandon Hanlan’s effort. On the follow up, Eaves shot came off the post, and the whole Sunderland squad breathed a sigh of relief.

Final Score: 4-1

ALS Man of The Match: George Honeyman

Alex Miller