Sunderland comprehensively beat Tranmere Rovers 5-0 at the SOL on Tuesday evening after a much-improved display as well as a first clean sheet of the season. A flurry of first half goals from Duncan Watmore, Chris Maguire and Lynden Gooch saw the lads race into the lead before late strikes from Will Grigg and Luke O’Nien sealed the victory which sees the lads climb the league table to seventh.
Phil Parkinson made four changes for his home bow as new Sunderland gaffer as Tranmere headed to Wearside. With Charlie Wyke injured and Aiden McGeady suspended they both missed out as did Connor McLaughlin and Grant Leadbitter. They were replaced in the starting eleven by George Dobson, Lynden Gooch, Chris Maguire and Will Grigg whilst Max Power captained the side in the absence of Leadbitter.
The visitors got the game underway kicking towards the North Stand but Sunderland immediately won back possession and attacked down the right hand side with Watmore and O’Nien who was back at right back. Then after good work by Maguire on the other flank Sunderland almost got off to the perfect start as Will Grigg flicked Maguire’s cross goalwards spectacularly with the outside of his right foot but he was unlucky to see it hit the inside of the right post.
The lads went close again soon after and again Maguire was the man causing the problems for the visitors as he refused to give up on a loose ball and harassed the defender into conceding possession to Gooch. He picked out Will Grigg who held the ball up with his back to goal before teeing up Max Power on the edge of the box but his shot was deflected wide and the corner was easily dealt with.
George Dobson then picked up a yellow card for an innocuous looking foul before Maguire blasted a shot over the bar from an ambitious angle. Just before the twenty minute mark Sunderland created another good opening after Dobson set Watmore away down the right who did well to skip past his man and deliver a great ball through the six yard box but there was no one in a red and white shirt on the end of it. At the other end Tranmere caused their first real problem as Mullin forced Burge into a strong save before Lynch blocked the follow up.
Sunderland took the lead a minute later with Duncan Watmore notching the first goal of Phil Parkinson's reign with a tidy finish into the bottom left hand corner. It was a well worked goal by the lads with Will Grigg the architect splitting the Tranmere defence with a clever through ball to Watmore on the edge of the box.
The lads doubled their lead two minutes later this time with Watmore getting an assist after he broke forward and was fouled on the edge of the box. Chris Maguire took the free kick and blasted it into the top right hand corner with the keeper beat by the power and not even able to move.
Sunderland looked like they were going to score every time they went forward and Watmore was next to have a sight of goal when the ball was rolled to him on the edge of the box but he blazed over. Tranmere tried to get back into the game and did force a few corners but Sunderland defended them well whilst the ref continually let them away with fouls with no cards.
Five minutes before the break Sunderland did get a third this time through Gooch who stabbed the ball home at the back post. However the build up again was superb with Chris Maguire dinking the ball through the Tranmere defence for the advancing Watmore who fizzed a great pass into the path of Gooch who couldn’t miss. Soon after we thought we had grabbed a fourth but the linesman flagged for a foul in the build up.
We should have had a fourth in first half injury time when Watmore played Dobson through on goal but the midfielder skewed his shot wide with his left foot.
Neither side made any changes at the break and Sunderland immediately went on the front foot kicking towards the North stand but the move broke down. The visitors looked a bit livelier going forward though Sunderland defensively looked strong snuffing out attacks and when they forced a corner defending well.
A few minutes into the second half Lynden Gooch went down injured with what looked like a hamstring injury and he was replaced by Marc McNulty. Tranmere then forced a succession of corners and went the closest they had came so far to scoring when a header was glanced goalwards past the diving Burge but fortunately for Sunderland it ricocheted off the post and allowed Lynch to clear.
With half an hour to go Sunderland created their first clear opening of the second half when McNulty showed a great turn of speed to accelerate down the left wing leaving a defender for dead before going agonisingly close with an attempted chip of the keeper. Five minutes later the pace and trickery of Watmore opened up a couple of shooting opportunities but both of his efforts were closed down.
Phil Parkinson made his second change of the game with Duncan Watmore replaced by Connor McLaughlin as Watmore continued to be nurtured back from injury. McLaughlin went to right back allowing O’Nien to move further forward and fill Watmore's role. We then forced a corner after a good cross from Hume was turned behind and we again went close when it was flicked towards goal but the visitors scrambled it clear.
We did score a fourth seven minutes from time when Will Grigg was rewarded for a good display with a simple tap in from inside the six yard box. Marc McNulty had saw his shot saved by the keeper after a route one ball forward by Burge presented a chance for him. After his shot was saved the ball came back to him and he tenaciously drove forward and squared for Grigg who couldn’t miss. It was Grigg's final contribution as he was soon replaced by Benji Kimpioka.
Luke O’Nien scored a fifth for Sunderland as he completed the rout with a fantastic diving header from a free kick from Maguire. There was three minutes of injury time which Sunderland saw out whilst Phil Parkinson and his coach staff barked out orders desperate to keep the clean sheet which we did.
A great performance.
Final Score: Sunderland 5 Tranmere Rovers 0
ALS Man of the Match: Duncan Watmore