Sunderland bounced back from the Wembley defeat with a comfortable 3-0 win at Accrington Stanley to jump back into third place in League One.
Aiden McGeady got the scoring underway early on and Will Grigg doubled the lead with the last kick of the half, the lads were cruising and added a goal late on through Kazaiah Sterling. Sunderland jumped above Portsmouth and only three points behind Barnsley with two games in hand on the Yorkshire side.
Sunderland went from 85 thousand fans to less than five thousand at Accrington Stanley as it was back to reality for the lads.
Jack Ross made several changes to the team which lost on penalties to Portsmouth: Denver Hume, Max Power, Dylan McGeouch, Lynden Gooch and Charlie Wyke all came in for Reece James, Grant Leadbitter, Lee Cattermole, Lewis Morgan and George Honeyman.
The decision to go with two strikers was a bold one and was a rare occasion that Ross had gone with an attacking formation.
Accrington sat in 18th going into the game and were only two points from safety. They are very much in a relegation battle and their players had spoken in the build-up how big a game it was for them.
The two teams had played out a 1-1 draw for 80 minutes until the referee decided the conditions were too bad to continue and the lads will no doubt be looking to improve that result and push closer towards to promotion places.
Sunderland started on the front foot and got off to the perfect start, fresh from his two goals at Wembley, Aiden McGeady cut inside from the left and unleashed a rocket which left Dimitar Evitmov with no chance.
The lads were dominating the game, Gooch cut in from the right and his shot/cross picked out Grigg, but the striker couldn’t sort his feet out and the shot was cleared off the line.
It was incredibly quick start from Ross’ men, and they were desperately unlucky not to be two up, it was refreshing to see the team go for a second straight away.
It was almost 2-0 in sensational circumstances, Power played it to Grigg, and sensationally backheeled to Power whose shot was too central and well saved by Evitmov.
Sunderland were having all the chances and Aiden McGeady almost scored again as he picked up the ball in the box from a Denver Hume cross. He just didn’t connect with his effort as well as he’d have liked, and it flashed wide.
Dylan McGeouch was having a great game and played a perfect ball over the top to Gooch who chipped the ball over the keeper only to see it hit the upright.
Finally, with little time to spare in the first half, the lads got the second goal. Jon McLaughlin kicked the ball way up the pitch and over the defence, Grigg raced through and finished through the legs of the Stanley keeper.
At times that was some of the best-attacking football this season, they looked confident and were playing with something to prove. The second goal was much deserved and gave the team that cushion.
Stanley came out the second half all guns blazing and should have got a goal back, firstly Jack Baldwin got himself in the way of a shot brilliantly as he threw himself in front of the ball. Moments later, McLaughlin superbly denied Paul Smyth as he blocked his shot wide of the post.
Sunderland on the counter had a good chance to make it three, Hume ran almost the length of the pitch and played it to Wyke, but the striker on his weaker side couldn’t get the contact he was looking for.
Wyke is still desperately searching for a goal and came even closer, he was through on goal, but his effort went way over the bar. It’s easy to feel sorry for the striker, he just looks like he needs one to go in.
Accrington had been a lot better in the second half and should have had a goal back, Erico Sousa ran through on an angle and hit his shot wide of the goal, he needed to hit it towards the far post.
Wyke was getting closer and closer to that elusive goal, Hume put in a great ball to the near post, Wyke flicked it on and it looked destined for the far corner, but just whistled past the post.
Sunderland should have been three up and it was that man Wyke again, he raced through down the left and looked to pick out the top right-hand corner, but his effort was well wide. The away faithful were doing their best to keep his spirits up and were singing his name for large periods of the second half.
The lads finally sealed the victory as Lewis Morgan ran through on goal and put it on a plate for Kazaiah Sterling to get his first ever goal in senior football. A great moment for the Spurs loanee who will no doubt never forget that moment.
The gaps were starting to appear in the Stanley backline and Sunderland made them pay as the lads sealed the third.
Grant Leadbitter played a ball over the top for Power who managed to get there in front of the keeper and tried to play it back to Sterling, but it just evaded the youngster and was cleared.
Full Time: Accrington Stanley 0-3 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Dylan McGeouch