Sunderland produced their best display of the season in front of prospective new owners as the lads comprehensively beat AFC Wimbledon 3 - 1 at the SOL on Saturday. King Chris Maguire capped a terrific display scoring a hat trick with Appaih nabbing what was a consolation for the visitors who were flattered by the score line.
After all the excitement over the takeover news which broke during the week it’s somewhat overshadowed the lads’ excellent back to back league victories over Portsmouth and Rochdale. Though the performances weren’t brilliant its lifted some of the tension on Wearside and eased a little pressure on Jack Ross.
On the transfer front Glenn Loovens left the club after one season whilst Ross was linked with a swoop for free agent Joel Lynch who was at QPR last season. The gaffer had no fresh injury concerns with Marc McNulty still missing with a hamstring strain though with it being our fourth games inside eleven days would Ross freshen up the side?
Ross made one change to the side that beat Rochdale with Denver Hume replacing Connor McLaughlin. The visitors kicked off kicking towards the North Stand in sweltering conditions but Sunderland soon got the ball and started to get on top after O’Nien played a diagonal ball to McGeady but his cross was cleared.
The lads took the lead after eight minutes through Chris Maguire who produced a sublime finish to chip the keeper after capitalising on a mistake in the Wimbledon defence. A long ball over the top from McLaughlin was misread by the visitors backline and a challenge from Wyke allowed the King to steam into the box and dink the ball over the keeper and into the back of the net.
At the other end the visitors forced a corner after fifteen minutes but the lads dealt with it comfortably and immediately went on the attack but Maguire wasted the counter attack by dwelling on the ball too long when McGeady was clear. After twenty five minutes we almost got in again when Maguire surged down the right and crossed for Wyke but the big striker was penalised for a foul trying to latch onto the ball. Two minutes later we forced a corner which was cleared only as far as Maguire on the edge of the box but he dragged a low shot wide of the post.
Ten minutes before the break having hardly ventured into the Sunderland half Wally Downes' side equalised through Appiah after soft defending from Sunderland. A cross from deep on the right wing found Appiah in acres of space at the back post and he nodded easily past McLaughlin from just inside the six yard box.
Five minutes before the break we forced a corner which Leadbitter took and delivered to the back post but Wyke nodded over with a diving header. We were soon on the attack again with Gooch crossing and the visitors clearing before Power wasted a good attack with a loose pass. Just before the break we won a free kick on the edge of the box after Wyke was fouled but Maguire curled his shot wide and we went in level at the break despite dominating the first half.
We didn’t make any changes at the break but after wasting time at the end of the first half after equalizing it was clear the visitors were satisfied with a point. They started the second half in the same manor defending deep but five minutes in we forced a corner after Gooch's effort was deflected over but the corner was cleared. Soon after we went close when Wyke held the ball up well and teed up McGeady but the keeper did well to deny him.
From the resulting corner we retook the lead and again Maguire was the man who found the back of the net. Leadbitter’s set piece was headed clear but the King was lurking on the edge of the box and he blasted the ball into the back of the net albeit aided by a slight deflection. We should have been three up a minute later when McGeady broke and played in Wyke but after checking back inside onto his left foot the keeper thwarted his effort.
Ross then made his first change with Will Grigg replacing Lynden Gooch as Sunderland looked to extend their lead. Sunderland should have scored a third with half an hour remaining after Maguire whipped in a great ball into the box for Wyke but he headed wide with a poor effort. Will Grigg was next to go close after he was played into the box and shrugged off a challenge but the out of form striker dragged his effort off target.
With twenty five minutes to go Ross made his second change with McGeouch replacing Max Power. AFC Wimbledon then forced a corner which we did well to clear. Ten minutes before the end of the game Maguire grabbed his hat trick as Sunderland were finally rewarded for their dominance. McGeady’s clever ball forward into Grigg resulted into a cross into the box which Maguire nodded in from close range. It was Maguire’s last piece of action as he was replaced by George Dobson for the closing stages of the game.
Jack Ross’ side cruised to victory seeing the game out comfortably sending the Sunderland faithful home happy.
Final Score: Sunderland 3 AFC Wimbledon 1
ALS Man of the Match: Chris Maguire