Sunderland beat Lincoln City 5-3 on penalties at the SOL on Wednesday evening to book their place in the final of the Papa John’s trophy at Wembley. The game finished 1-1 in normal time after the lads had fell behind to a second half strike from Anthony Scully before in form Charlie Wyke drew the lad’s level to force the shootout.
Lee Johnson made two changes to the side that trounced Doncaster Rovers at the weekend with Grant Leadbitter and Dan Neil starting in place of Connor McLaughlin and Dion Sanderson. With Sanderson ineligible and McLaughlin suffering a groin niggle there was a reshuffle at the back with Max Power moving to right back and Luke O’Nien partnering Bailey Wright in the centre of defence.
Sunderland got the game underway kicking towards the Roker End but it was a cagey opening with both sides having spells of possession but not really being able to do anything with it. Lynden Gooch got into a crossing position on the right flank after combining well with Charlie Wyke but overhit his cross for a goal kick. At the other end Luke O’Nien was forced to concede a corner heading behind a cross from Scully but Montsma headed the resulting set piece over the bar.
After twenty minutes the visitors caught Sunderland on the counterattack after a sloppy pass from Aiden McGeady in the Lincoln half. The visitors broke at pace with the ball eventually played to Scully on the right-hand side of the box, but he fired well wide of the target. At the other end Sunderland won a free kick in a dangerous position on the right wing after Lynden Gooch was fouled. Aiden McGeady curled a superb looking ball into the box which struck a Lincoln defender and rolled through the six-yard box and into the arms of the keeper.
On the half hour Sunderland had their first real effort on goal when McGeady played the ball into the feet of McFadzean in the box. The left back did well to turn and shoot towards the bottom left hand corner, but his effort was deflected wide. The resulting corner was crossed towards McGeady who volleyed over, but the ref had already blown and penalised Sunderland for a foul.
Five minutes before the break Sunderland registered their first shot on target when Aiden McGeady forced the Lincoln keeper into a save low to his right. The Irishman worked half a yard for himself on the corner of the box with a neat piece of skill before aiming a dipping shot towards the bottom right hand corner which the keeper palmed away.
There was three minutes added to the first half but there were no further chances and the sides went in at the break goalless. Sunderland were forced into a change at the break with Bailey Wright making way for Connor McLaughlin in the heart of the defence. The visitors forced Lee Burge into an early save after a mistake saw Hopper find space in the box, but Burge gathered his left footed effort at the second attempt.
Ten minutes into the second half Lincoln won a free kick in a dangerous position about 25 yards from goal in the centre of the pitch after Luke O’Nien hauled down Hopper. O’Nien was booked for the challenge but fortunately for Sunderland Grant’s shot from the free kick was way off target.
Lee Johnson made a double substitution with half an hour remaining with Jack Diamond and Chris Maguire replacing Dan Neil and Josh Scowen. Sunderland soon found themselves a goal behind however Lee Johnson was incensed on the touchline as he felt Lincoln were awarded a throw in they shouldn’t have been in the build-up. The ball was eventually crossed in from the left to McGrandles who saw a shot parried by Burge into the path of Scully who slammed the rebound into the back of the net.
Sunderland fashioned a chance to equalise with 20 minutes remaining when Jack Diamond did well on the right-wing crossing into the box for Wyke. Wyke did well to get a diving header on the cross but the keeper tipped it over. The visitors cleared the corner, but Sunderland were soon back on level terms thanks to another goal from Charlie Wyke assisted by Aiden McGeady. McGeady clipped a cross from the right which Wyke did fantastically well to glance the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
Aiden McGeady then stung the keeper’s hands with a long range shot as Sunderland started putting more pressures on Lincoln. Lee Johnson made his fourth change of the game with Aiden O’Brien replacing Lynden Gooch before Aiden McGeady forced the keeper into another save with a long-range shot.
There was four minutes of added time and Lincoln forced a corner, but Sunderland did well to clear it. Lincoln continued with the pressure, but Sunderland did well defensively with Connor McLaughlin producing a well-timed tackle in the box to regain possession.
Sunderland had a final opportunity to get the ball into the box when McGeady found space on the right, but the keeper gathered before the ref brought the game to an end with penalties to settle the tie.
Thankfully, Power, O’Nien, Maguire, McGeady and Leadbitter all netted for us, while Howarth missed for Lincoln...
SUNDERLAND HEAD TO WEMBLEY.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 Lincoln City 1
ALS Man of the Match: Aiden McGeady