George Honeyman secured back to back wins in a dramatic comeback as the lads move level on point with Barnsley in second.
Rochdale got the scoring underway as their top scorer Ian Henderson got the hosts in front. Sunderland levelled the scoring in the second half as Charlie Wyke ended his goal drought. Captain Honeyman scored a late winner as Sunderland sealed a huge three points in the promotion race. Barnsley fell to Burton town and Luton failed to beat Blackpool in a big day at the top of the table.
Sunderland travelled to Rochdale to play the third match in six days and looked to make it back to back wins in League One.
There was only one change from the team which beat Accrington Stanley 3-0 and it was a big one. Aiden McGeady was forced off at half time in the win and wasn’t fit enough to make the squad – Lewis Morgan replaced the Irishman.
Rochdale are in real trouble at the bottom of the table and came into the game in 23rd place. They are unbeaten in their last four as caretaker manager Brian Barry-Murphy was given the permanent job following a good spell over the last month.
Sunderland’s first effort came through Dylan McGeouch who received the ball from Lynden Gooch, he took his time and tried to measure a shot into the corner but couldn’t get the power.
Sunderland came so close to getting the opening goal 15 minutes in, Gooch crossed the ball into Charlie Wyke, and he managed to get something on and it dropped to Will Grigg who looked to have poked it home, but Josh Lillis made a miraculous save to deny Grigg from six yards.
The lads were looking the more threatening team and Gooch played a fine ball over the top to Wyke, but just before he could get a shot away, he was tackled from behind by Jimmy McNulty.
Rochdale with just about their first shot of the match took the lead, Joe Bunney’s cross found their top scorer Ian Henderson who couldn’t miss from six yards out. It was now a real test for the Sunderland players character and how they could respond from being a goal down.
The Dale came close to making it two as Oliver Rathbone’s speculative half volley almost caught Jon McLaughlin out, but it looped past the post.
The lads were trying their best to get a goal before half time and Max Power had an effort from 25 yards out as he tried to curl it in the far corner, but Lillis got across to make the save.
After starting the game relatively well, Jack Ross’ men looked a bit devoid of ideas, what was clear to see was that McGeady was missed.
The lads were really struggling to create much going forward and Rochdale’s constant time wasting whenever they could wasn’t helping.
Wyke has been desperate for a goal and it came in brilliant fashion, with his back to goal on the edge of the box he spun and fired a low shot into the bottom corner. You could see how much it meant to him to get the goal.
The goal came at a great time, with 30 minutes still to play it was more than enough time for them to get another goal.
Minutes later, Honeyman charged down the right and whipped in a low ball to Grigg who couldn’t quite get a good enough shot away to beat Lillis as he blocked the effort. The ball then dropped to Morgan who was so close to the outrushing keeper he couldn’t beat him.
Sunderland almost shot themselves in the foot as Jack Baldwin skewed a pass behind him and almost lobbed McLaughlin, the Scot had to scramble back and tip it over the bar.
After months of not knowing what’s going on with Bryan Oviedo, he came on to the pitch for Denver Hume to give more of an attacking threat down the left flank.
It was an evenly poised game, with Sunderland often focusing down the left-hand side looking to overlap with Oviedo.
Rochdale were putting up a fight as Henderson got on the end of a cross and glanced it just wide of the far post. The hosts were very dangerous from crosses and almost retook the lead and were trying to get balls in the box at every opportunity.
Ross was going all out for the win as he brought on Kazaiah Sterling for Morgan, so all three of our strikers at the club were on the pitch.
Sterling did well on the right-hand side as he crossed it into the box, it was cleared back to McGeouch in acres of space - unfortunately, his effort was way too high.
With only a minute left in the game, Sunderland made the breakthrough, after some patient build-up Luke O’Nien whipped the ball into Honeyman who finished well past Lillis. He may score better goals but not many will be as important as that with Luton and Barnsley not winning going into the last few minutes.
Full Time: Rochdale 1-2 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Charlie Wyke