Sunderland finally ended a nine-match winless run as Phil Parkinson sealed his first away win as manager. Sunderland dominated the first half and deservedly went 1-0 up with a Lynden Gooch strike, but Jon Taylor equalized late in the half to level the scores. Parkinson’s men continued to pile on the pressure and Chris Maguire’s strike gave Sunderland their first league away win since the 14th of September.
While matters off the field hit new heights on Friday following another terrible result against bottom of the table Bolton, Sunderland quickly returned to action looking to end a barren run of form with four thousand Sunderland fans in attendance.
Chris Maguire, Joel Lynch and George Dobson all got starts in place of Duncan Watmore, Tom Flanagan and Grant Leadbitter respectively. Phil Parkinson opted to remain with a three/five at the back and Charlie Wyke up top looking to get the goals.
Sunderland started the brighter and should have had the first chance of the match from a Maguire corner; the ball was whipped in with some pace, but somehow missed everyone in the Doncaster six-yard box.
The lads had started with so much more pace and Gooch provided a moment of real class – he cut inside on his left foot with a stepover or two and unleashed a brilliant curling effort past Timothy Dieng.
This was a Sunderland team fans were not used to, dare I say there was urgency in a Parkinson team at last? Whatever he had said pre-match had worked a treat and his players looked more than up for it.
Sunderland’s hard work was almost undone as Jon Taylor was given too much space on the edge of the box and his effort on goal was a yard or two wide of the post
Wyke was the next to have a go from outside the box and his curling strike needed saving by Dieng to deny the lads a second of the afternoon.
Sunderland were well on top and were going for that second goal. Maguire tried to beat Dieng from range but couldn’t find the power to beat him at the near post. The lads deserved a second goal and were getting closer and closer.
What was most impressive about the team’s start to this match was the pressing and the urgency of the players – they were fighting for every ball and not giving up on anything.
Half an hour into the half the game had slowed down dramatically, but Doncaster hadn’t tested Jon McLaughlin so far.
Sunderland had been by far the better team but five minutes before the break Taylor scored the equalizer. Donny broke quickly and Kieran Sadlier whipped a low ball into Taylor and squeezed past McLaughlin who could have done better.
The lads almost responded in brilliant fashion: from a free kick from 25 yards out it was laid off to Maguire who fired a brilliant effort towards goal which bounced off the bar and over.
As the first half ended had Sunderland bossed it for 44 of the 45 minutes – a response was needed in the second period and would be a big test of character.
Sunderland were so close to scoring as Maguire’s free-kick was delivered into the box and flicked on by Ozturk to Wyke’s outstretched boot but from less than six yards he could only hit it over the bar – a golden opportunity missed.
It was a very open game with both sides looking to get a second goal, Doncaster broke quickly in numbers and thought they’d been given a penalty as Taylor went crashing down to the floor, but a goal kick was given.
Sunderland had been a threat down the left-hand side all game and Gooch and Denver Hume combined brilliantly for the latter to play it back to Maguire who made no mistake from 10 yards out – a fantastically worked goal.
Doncaster almost equalised through Sadlier and needed a great save from McLaughlin who got down well to his right to keep Sunderland in front.
Gooch was having a stormer and chipped the ball into Luke O’Nien at the far post who powered a header towards goal only to see Dieng brilliantly beat it away.
The American was replaced by Duncan Watmore with ten minutes to play to great applause and cries of GOOCH! A simply magnificent performance from the winger.
The lads should have sealed as Hume charged into the box and was caught in two minds as he opted to cross but couldn’t pick out a teammate.
The final whistle blew and a thoroughly deserved three points were heading back to Wearside with four thousand delighted fans.
Full Time: Doncaster 1-2 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Lynden Gooch
Ratings vs Donny
By Daniel McCallum
Jon McLaughlin (7/10): Didn’t do too much but commanded his box and distribution was decent.
Jordan Willis (6/10): Always switched on, even though he wasn’t the busiest.
Alim Ozturk (5/10): Had a hairy moment when he handballed it in no danger, no nonsense as usual other than that.
Joel Lynch (6/10): Good in the air and helped Hume defensively.
Luke O’Nien (6/10): Helped see out the win but wasn’t that effective going forward.
Denver Hume (8/10): A constant threat on the wing and always causing troubles with his pace and dribbling. Played a key role in Maguire’s goal too.
Max Power (7/10): Tried his hardest and dictated play pretty well without Leadbitter next to him.
George Dobson (4/10): Poor possession today
Chris Maguire (7/10): Nearly scored from a free kick in the first half, before scoring a well-taken goal in the second. A number of good set piece deliveries as well.
Lynden Gooch (8/10): Scored a really good solo goal and a generally brilliant, productive game for Gooch. Did well for the second goal too.
Charlie Wyke (8/10): Won more of his aerial battles, even if no one was there to win the knockdowns. Good feet and good link up play, pressured well as well.
Duncan Watmore (6/10): Wasn’t impactful as we sat deep and defended the lead