Sunderland secured a second clean sheet in as many games as Chris Maguire’s strike was enough to beat Doncaster 1-0, in a big game at the top of League One. The lads have registered three wins on the bounce as Jack Ross’s men are only looking up.
Three points and another clean sheet capped of a fine away victory. Jon McLaughlin was the hero of the first half, but King Maguire reigned supreme to seal the win for the lads.
Sunderland made the journey down the A19 to South Yorkshire with 4000 fans behind them. It was third against sixth going into the game with only a point separating the two sides.
The Black Cats were looking to get into the top two of the table in a big clash at the Keepmoat Stadium. Sunderland needed to better Petersburg’s result to which would see the Black Cats move up a place in the promotion spots.
Sunderland made two changes from the winning performance against Shrewsbury, as super sub-Lynden Gooch returned to the starting line-up. Josh Maja also missed out of the squad entirely as he picked up a knock in the game against Shrewsbury.
With top scorer Maja unavailable this gave Jerome Sinclair the chance to impress in his most natural position. The on-loan Liverpool man has scored one goal this season which he scored in another big game against Peterborough.
Sunderland had started the game on the front foot and the first chance of the game through Chris Maguire. Gooch used his pace and trickery to beat his man and chipped the ball to the back post where Maguire arrived late, however, his header went comfortably over the bar.
Worrying for Sunderland Dylan McGeouch and Lee Cattermole had both been carded in the first 15 minutes of the game. Both centre midfielders had been put in some poor challenges and were on thin ice for the remainder of the game.
Sunderland had a great chance to get in front, as George Honeyman whipped in a fine ball to Gooch at the back post, but the American couldn’t get any contact on the cross to turn it home. On the counter, Herbie Kane was sent through down the right but following some good defending from Cattermole the Dons failed to get a meaningful shot at goal.
Both sides were having a serious go in the game, but it was the away side that looked the more likely to get the opening goal, with Gooch at the centre of Sunderland’s good work.
Mallik Wilks was lucky to get away with only a yellow card halfway through the first period as he had an off the ball altercation with Maguire, the Sunderland fans and players were incensed that the referee and his officials didn’t deem it a sending off. The game became a real feisty affair with four yellow cards in the opening 35 minutes.
In the final minutes of the half Doncaster had two brilliant chances to take the lead. Firstly, Wilks was sent through on goal against Jon McLaughlin, but the Scotsman stood firm to save well. He did however, need the help of Jack Baldwin seconds later to clear off the line. It was a fine save by Mclaughlin who managed to throw himself in front of the shot.
A minute later Doncaster were through on goal again, this time Matty Blair was thwarted by McLaughlin in the Sunderland goal, who dove low and held on the ball. It was two moments of brilliance from the Sunderland keeper who proved why he’s considered as one of the outstanding keepers in the division, if not the best in the league.
Sunderland in the first minute of the second half took the lead through Maguire. Following a switch of the play, Gooch beat his man brilliantly and cut inside brilliantly to shoot, however, was denied by the post. The ball dropped to Adam Matthews who crossed brilliantly to Maguire who couldn’t miss from six yards out.
It was the perfect start to the half with Gooch again at the heart of the attack. The difference the winger made to the side was huge, his pace and ability to beat a man terrified the Doncaster defence.
The home side were never going to sit back and allow Sunderland to walk away with the victory. McLaughlin was again called into action as John Marquis’ strike to the near post was palmed behind by the keeper.
Sunderland had the ball in the back of the net with just under 20 minutes to play, but Luke O’Nien was adjudged offside as he fired home. Tom Flanagan’s initial strike was well saved by Marko Marosi and the follow up was tucked in by O’Nien. It would have been the former Wycombe man's second goal in as many games.
Doncaster huffed and puffed but struggled to create many chances from open play, Sunderland managed to control the latter stages of the game. The Sunderland defenders had a fantastic game as they marshalled the Doncaster attackers giving them next to nothing.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 Doncaster 0
ALS Man of the Match: Chris Maguire