Sunderland secured a first win of the season as Jack Ross’ men moved into the second round of the League Cup with a 3-1 win.
Marc McNulty got the scoring underway with his first ever goal for Sunderland as the lads led going into the break. Carley Bishop scored the equalizer midway through the second half but goals from Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke sealed the win.
Sunderland travelled to fellow League One side Accrington Stanley in this season's first Carabao Cup game - looking to get the first win of the season.
Jack Ross made six changes to the team which drew 1-1 with Ipswich on Saturday with Lee Burge, Alim Ozturk, Chris Maguire, Max Power, Grant Leadbitter and Will Grigg in the starting 11.
It’s fair to say the mood on Wearside isn’t the rosiest, while the League Cup is well down the pecking order of priorities this season - winning matches is right at the top. Sunderland simply need to start winning games and tonight’s match was a great opportunity for certain players to stake their claim for a spot in the team and to get the lads season on track.
Sunderland’s opponents, Stanley, have only played one game this season due to their match against Bury on Saturday being postponed. Their first match of the campaign was a defeat to newly promoted side Lincoln City and as a result might have been a bit rusty after a ten-day break.
Sunderland started the better as top scorer Gooch’s shot from the edge of the box was saved by Dimitar Evtimov and held on before Maguire could reach it.
Ozturk was the first to have a real chance for the lads as Jordan Willis’s header from a Leadbitter corner was met by the Turk whose shot was deflected wide for another corner.
Sunderland took the lead through Mark McNulty with a great bit of play from the lads, Power zipped it into Maguire who flicked it on to the Reading loanee to fire home on the angle for his first in a Sunderland shirt.
It was the first time the lads had taken the lead this season and were deservedly in the lead after a positive start from Ross’ men.
After an incredibly poor first half last time out, it was pleasing to see Sunderland come out and play with a lot more control. The team seemed so much more comfortable playing four at the back with Ozturk impressing early on.
Stanley should have equalized as Courtney Baker-Richardson played it to Colby Bishop with an open net but fell over and couldn’t tap it home – a big let-off for Sunderland.
Sunderland were playing with so much more freedom in attack and Grigg almost got off the mark this season as his header from Power’s cross just whistled past the post.
Grigg came even closer to scoring his first of the campaign as his effort was well saved by Evtimov who blocked his flicked shot. It was nice to see Grigg getting a lot more involved and was getting closer.
Stanley finished the half strongly with some pressure on Burge’s goal, but Ross will have been incredibly pleased with the response from his players.
The second half didn’t have the same fluidity of the first and the game was beginning to be a bit stop-start with fouls and yellow cards for both sides.
An hour into the game and Accrington were awarded a penalty as Connor McLaughlin pulled down Jordan Clark with an unnecessary challenge from the full-back – Bishop stepped up and sent Burge the wrong way to level up the score.
Sunderland yet again were drawing 1-1 in a game which Burge had been largely untroubled and it was all down to an individual error.
McGeady came on for Grigg who was struggling to make any difference in the second period, Ross was looking for the Irishman to make the difference with 20 minutes to play.
Sunderland came so close to retaking the lead as McGeady’s pass released McNulty, but his shot hit the underside of the as he looked to curl it into the far post – a great chance to win the match with less than 15 minutes to play.
Wyke was introduced for the first time this season as he replaced Chris Maguire in a bid to find a winner and stop the game going to penalties.
With less than ten minutes to play McGeady saved Sunderland from drawing another game 1-1, McGeady broke into the Stanley half-past two defenders with a fake shot and fired it low into the far corner – a brilliant individual goal from the winger.
McNulty had his best game in a Sunderland shirt and could have added another, but his low shot was saved by Evtimov.
Substitute Wyke sealed the victory with a late goal deep into injury time, McNulty’s cross was met by Wyke at the near post who cleverly flicked it in.
Full Time: Accrington Stanley 1-3 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Marc McNulty