Sunderland moved into third place in League One with a debut goal from Ross Stewart in a 2-0 win in Lancashire.

The first half was a scrappy affair with neither side taking control of the game, Stewart came on at half time and made a huge impact with his first goal. Charlie Wyke added a second for the lads and sealed all three points.

Fresh from Sunderland's Wembley win, the lads returned to League One action to try and push closer to the promotion places.

Lee Johnson made five changes from the Papa John’s Trophy win with Connor McLaughlin, Dion Sanderson, Jake Vokins, Jack Diamond, and Carl Winchester replaced Tom Flanagan, Grant Leadbitter, Chris Maguire, and Josh Scowen.

With Lincoln losing on Tuesday night, Sunderland had a great chance to jump a position and edge closer to the top two.

Sunderland started the game with a 3-4-3 formation, and through 10 minutes Johnson’s men had edged proceedings, but with little goalmouth action.

Stanley were the first to go close from a corner, Michael Nottingham’s header was crossed right across the face of goal, but Dion Sanderson managed to clear to safety.

The lads had their first chance 20 minutes in; Diamond did well to cut inside and tried to place it into the bottom corner, but it was well saved by Toby Savin.

Following a flurry of corners, McGeady chipped in a ball in, and Dion Charles almost scored an own goal as his header flicked over by Savin.

Sunderland had increased the pressure and were looking for that opener before the break with several corners.

Straight from a Sunderland corner, Stanley cleared their lines, and Paul Smyth was through on goal, but Vokins got back and forced Smyth into dragging an effort wide.

With a few minutes left in the half, Lynden Gooch whipped in a lovely ball to Luke O’Nien who was free in the middle but got his header all wrong.

In injury time, Stanley’s Sean McConville glanced a header on, but it whistled past the post with Lee Burge beaten.

Sunderland made a change at half time and a debut for Ross Stewart who replaced Jack Diamond following his move from Ross County in January.

The big striker almost made an immediate impact from a McGeady freekick, he jumped the highest at the back post and his looping header only just evaded the far corner.

Five minutes into the half and David Morgan found himself free on the edge of the area and fired an effort towards goal but couldn’t find the target.

On the hour mark, Sunderland took the lead, Stewart got on the end of a Gooch ball in and looped a header high in the sky, and it deceived Savin and dropped into the far corner for a debut goal.

Sunderland almost got a second as Stewart’s flick on dropped to Wyke who looked to flick it over Savin but couldn’t get enough on it to beat the Stanley goalkeeper.

There had been nothing special about Sunderland’s performance, but grinding out a win was crucial in the latter stages of the season.

With five minutes to play, Sunderland sealed all three points with a Wyke header; Max Power’s corner was met by the big man who couldn’t miss from close range.

Full Time: Accrington Stanley 0- 2 Sunderland

ALS Man of the Match: Ross Stewart

Sunderland: Burge; McLaughlin, Sanderson, O'Nien; Gooch (Leadbitter 85’), Power, Winchester, Vokins (McFadzean); Diamond (Stewart 46’), Wyke (Maguire 88), McGeady (Scowen 69’)

Subs Not Used: Matthews &Younger