Sunderland remain the only unbeaten side in League One after comfortably beating Crewe Alexandra 1 – 0 at the SOL on Tuesday evening. However, despite dominating the game Phil Parkinson’s side were guilty of wasting a host of chances and in fact relied on a late first half own goal from Luke Offord to seal the points which sees the lads remain fifth in the league.
Phil Parkinson made one change from the side that beat Swindon on Saturday at the Country Ground with Denver Hume replacing the injured Jordan Willis. Former Sunderland striker Mikael Mandron, who scored a brace for his last club Gillingham at the SOL in March, lined up for the visitors.
Crewe got the game underway kicking towards the North Stand but it was a scrappy opening with both sides guilty of cheaply conceding possession. We forced a corner after a neat interchange of play around the ten-minute mark when Gooch and Scowen combined on the right with Scowen’s cross turned behind. Maguire’s corner was cleared at the front post though Sunderland kept up the pressure with a spell of possession having finally settled into the game. Chris Maguire found Charlie Wyke in a decent position on the edge of the box but the striker blasted over the bar.
At the other end the visitors then won a corner when Denver Hume was beaten too easily by Powell cutting inside from the right but O’Nien did well to intercept the cross. We cleared the first corner but Crewe soon forced another one from the opposite side but this was also dealt with well by Sunderland.
Around the twenty-five-minute mark we won a free kick in a dangerous position after Chris Maguire was tripped. Maguire tried an ambitious effort on goal from the set piece and although he struck it reasonably well it never looked like troubling the keeper.
After half an hour Charlie Wyke had another effort on goal when he got on the end of a cross from Denver Hume from the left, but the keeper gathered his header comfortably. A minute later Sunderland went close after Maguire teed up Gooch 20 yards from goal with the American unlucky to see his curling left footed effort dip just over the bar.
Sunderland were starting to impose themselves on the game and fashioned another opportunity when Gooch did well on the right and was unfortunate to see a cross cleared after he had outpaced the defender. Max Power then drew a decent save from the keeper after finding space in the box after a clever dummy from Power allowed Charlie Wyke to play a reverse ball back to him just inside the box.
Five minutes before half time Sunderland went close again after Maguire was found in a shooting position just outside the box by Scowen. Maguire unleashed a powerful effort which took a deflection leaving the keeper flat footed but unfortunately for the lads the ball bounced the wrong side of the post for a corner which the visitors cleared. Sunderland’s pressure eventually told on the stroke of half time when they took the lead courtesy of an own goal from Luke Offord. Lynden Gooch whipped a great cross into the six-yard box from the right flank towards Charlie Wyke, but the quality of the American’s cross forced the defender to try and deal with it before Wyke could connect but Offord could only nod it into his goal. Neither side made any changes at the break and the visitors started the second half a bit sharper with Luke O’Nien having to defend well after a sweeping move from Crewe which began with their keeper almost saw Finney have a sight of goal.
At the other end Sunderland should have doubled their lead when Max Power found himself in a great shooting position, but he blazed over. The move started when Leadbitter found Hume on the left who in turn crossed for Wyke. Wyke saw his effort blocked but the loose ball fell kindly into the path of Power who is usually clinical in those positions, but he got under the shot with his effort landing in the North Stand.
With twenty-five minutes remaining the Crewe keeper Will Jaaskelainen was booked for hacking down Charlie Wyke just outside of the right-hand side of the box. Bailey Wright should have doubled Sunderland’s lead from the resulting free kick from Josh Scowen but somehow Wright managed to put his diving header from inside the six-yard box over the bar.
Sunderland were guilty of wasting another good chance soon after when Charlie Wyke flicked a long ball into the path of Lynden Gooch. Gooch did well to ride a challenge and before trying to lift the ball over the keeper, but his goal bound shot struck the keeper in the face before being cleared. Phil Parkinson then made his first change of the evening with Aiden O’Brien replacing Chris Maguire whilst the second change soon followed with George Dobson replacing Josh Scowen.
The substitutions then almost combined when they bundled into the box but then they got in each other’s way when a square pass would have been a better option with Dobson eventually penalised for handball after O’Brien’s shot. Parkinson made his final change with Flanagan replacing Gooch as Sunderland began defending deeper and deeper and looking slightly nervy.
There was four minutes of injury time which we saw out well to seal the victory.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 Crewe Alexandra 0
ALS Man of the Match: Luke O’Nien
SUNDERLAND (3-5-2): Burge; McLaughlin, Wright, O’Nien; Gooch (Flanagan 86), Leadbitter, Scowen (Dobson 84), Power, Hume; Maguire (O’Brien 73), Wyke.
Subs: Matthews (gk), Diamond, Grigg, Graham.
CREWE ALEXANDRA (4-3-2-1): Jaaskelainen; Ng, Beckles, Offord, Pickering; Murphy, Wintle, Finney (Ainley 67); Powell (Dale 56), Kirk (Porter 82); Mandron.
Subs: Richards, Lowery, Zanzala, Johnson.