Sunderland beat Southend United 1 – 0 at the SOL on Saturday thanks to a brilliant diving header from Luke O’Nien which sees Phil Parkinson’s side move up the table to seventh. It was a sold display from Sunderland who dominated the game and should have probably won by more.
After losing last weekend at Shrewsbury and getting knocked out of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday at Oxford the lads returned to Wearside hoping to get the promotion campaign back on track and repeat the performance of the last home game against Tranmere. Southend headed to Sunderland having lost their last two games heavily and with only Bolton below them in the league although they have recently appointed Sol Campbell as manager.
Most of the talk the past week has focused on off the field matters but on the pitch Phil Parkinson was definitely without injured trio Lee Burge, Charlie Wyke and Lynden Gooch whilst Duncan Watmore was a doubt with a virus. Joel Lynch was set to be available after picking up a knock whilst Chris Maguire was available after missing Tuesday’s cup game through suspension.
Parkinson made to changes to the side that lost at Shrewsbury last weekend with Jon McLaughlin and Conor McLaughlin replacing Lee Burge and Duncan Watmore. Watmore was fit enough to be named on the bench.
Prior to kick off there was a period of silence in respect of the Armed Forces and the brave people who have lost their lives in service for their country ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
The visitors got the game underway but there was an early stoppage after a head injury to a Southend defender. Southend had an early chance inside the ten minute mark when a cross from the left was flashed across the box but it was sliced behind for a goal kick. At the other end McGeady produced a nice bit of trickery to work space for a shot but he blasted over. After fifteen minutes we had a good chance after Denver Hume made a good run forward and played McLaughlin into the box but the defender smashed his cross out for a goal kick.
We took the lead after twenty minutes with a really well worked goal that was finished off spectacularly by Luke O’Nien. The lads flew down the left hand side with Hume bombing on and whipping a great cross into the box which O’Nien buried in the bottom right hand corner with a diving header. After twenty five minutes McGeady again found space on the edge of the box and tried his luck but the Irishman’s effort was off target. Soon after we had another chance when McLaughlin chipped the ball into the box for Grigg who fed Maguire but he sliced wide with his left foot.
On the half hour the visitors had their first real venture forward and forced a throw in down the left which was hurled into the box. Sunderland managed to clear their lines amidst shouts for a penalty for handball by the Southend players and manager although the ref wasnt having it and waved away the protests.
Five minutes before the break the visitors had a half chance when a cross from the right wasn't dealt with by Sunderland. The ball was nodded back across goal dangerously towards Goodship but he miss hit his shot from six yards and McLaughlin gathered comfortably. Just before the break we had another half chance when O’Nien swept a ball into the box but McGeady couldn’t get on the end of it.
Neither side made any changes at the break but their was an injury to the visitors which caused a delay before Grigg went close nodding a cross from the right just over the bar. Five minutes into the second half Hume did brilliantly to work his way into the box past two defenders but his cross was cleared for a corner which Southend cleared.
With half an hour to go Phil Parkinson made his first change of the day as Duncan Watmore replaced Chris Maguire. Watmore was immediately into the action but saw a volley blocked from the edge of the box. Moments later McGeady tested the keeper from the edge of the box but he was denied by a good diving save. The lads should have scored again after the ball dropped to O’Nien at the back post with twenty minutes remaining but the Southend keeper did well to hold O’Nien's volley.
Parkinson made his second change of the game with fifteen minutes left with Marc McNulty replacing Will Grigg. The visitors pressed as the game went on and had a half chance when a free kick was sent into the box but after losing the second ball Sunderland eventually cleared. Sunderland’s final change of the game came five minutes from time when Aiden McGeady was replaced by Grant Leadbitter.
Sunderland saw the game out professionally seeing out four minutes of added time to seal the win.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 Southend United 0
ALS Man of the Match: Denver Hume