Sunderland moved up to ninth in the league after beating Lincoln City 3 – 1 at the SOL as Phil Parkinson’s side capitalised on winning the only League One fixture on Saturday. First half goals from Tom Flanagan and a Lynden Gooch brace sealed the victory for Sunderland who turned in a much improved performance from their last home outing on Boxing Day although they were helped by poor Lincoln defending who grabbed a consolation through Tyler Walker in the second half.
Phil Parkinson made one change to the side that drew with Fleetwood on New Year’s Day with Joel Lynch dropped in favour of Tom Flanagan.
Sunderland got the game underway kicking towards the Roker End with an immediate hoof up the front towards Charlie Wyke which Lincoln cleared. The lads then went close after Wills found Maguire on the edge of the box who rode a couple of challenges before firing a left foot shot wide of the post.
The lads continued to threaten with Denver Hume forcing the keeper to concede a corner though Maguire’s short set piece to Gooch was wasted. Maguire then did well to force the keeper into a low stop from around 25 yards with a well struck shot but Gooch couldn’t capitalise on the loose ball.
After around ten minutes Lincoln started to come back into the game and a near move down the left saw Flanagan make a decent tackle on Hesketh albeit conceding a corner. We cleared the corner but the visitors had grew into the game backed by a decent following with a large portion of the Premier Concourse occupied.
Sunderland took the lead just before the twenty minute mark thanks to a Chris Maguire corner which had been won by Hume. Maguire swung the ball into the box with Flanagan glancing the ball into the deck which ended up nestling in the roof of the net and unlike Boxing Day this one wasn't being ruled out.
Flanagan should have doubled Sunderland’s lead a minute later when he again latched onto a Chris Maguire set piece but this time he side footed a volley across the face of the goal. The lads did double the lead soon after thanks to some hapless defending from the visitors allowed Lynden Gooch to pounce. Lincoln tried to play out from the back but Chris Maguire pressed forward and blocked a clearance which looped into the air which Gooch nodded into the back of the net.
Gooch found the net again five minutes later as he grabbed Sunderland’s third and capped off a dominant opening half an hour from Phil Parkinson’s side. The American latched onto a long punt forward from Jon McLaughlin which the Lincoln defence misread before coolly slotting the ball past the keeper into the bottom corner of the net. The lads then went close again ten minutes before the break when Hume drove a shot wide at the front post from the edge of the box when a cross might have been a better option.
We forced a corner at the end of the first half as Sunderland almost added a fourth with Maguire again the architect. O’Nien won a free kick on the right flank which the Scot whipped into the box onto the head of Ozturk but he was denied by a great save from the Lincoln keeper who tipped his goal bound effort over the bar for a corner. Lincoln cleared the corner and the score remained 3 – 0 at half time.
The visitors made a change at the break with Akinde replacing Payne before getting the second period underway kicking towards the Roker End. There was an early scare for Sunderland after Ozturk failed to clear a cross allowing Akinde a sight of goal but Dobson managed to run the ball clear.
Lincoln then went close again with half an hour remaining as they should have scored from a corner from the left but Sunderland eventually scrambled the ball clear. Phil Parkinson then made history first change of the game as Duncan Watmore replaced Chris Maguire in an attempt to freshen up the performance which had went a bit flat after the first half.
Sunderland’s slow start to the second half was soon punished after weak defending from Denver Hume allowed Anderson to brush him off and cross for Walker to tap in at the back post. Hume was appealing for a foul whilst Walker looked offside but neither was given as Sunderland were deservedly pegged back. Lincoln continued to press forward and as chances were missed by Hesketh and Bolger.
At the other end Charlie Wyke had an effort saved at close range from the keeper before Max Power clipped the bar with a long range shot as Sunderland eventually showed their teeth with twenty minutes remaining of the second half. Ten minutes from time Luke O’Nien went close with an audacious header from the angle of the box but it just looped wide with the keeper scrambling to his back post.
O’Nien was then booked a few minutes from full time for a blatant handball which gifted the visitors a free kick in a decent position but we cleared our lines before the linesman flagged for offside. Parkinson made his final change of the game as Grant Leadbitter entered the field in place of Lynden Gooch as Sunderland looked to see out the victory.
We did just that in the three minutes of added time to seal a much deserved win albeit if the second half didn’t live up to the first half’s billing.
Final Score: Sunderland 3 Lincoln City 1
ALS Man of the Match: Lynden Gooch
Ratings vs Lincoln
By Daniel McCallum
Jon McLaughlin (6/10): Had nothing to do against a very poor Lincoln strike force
Luke O’Nien (6/10): Busy as a bee, as usual
Jordan Willis (7/10): Switched on throughout and didn’t put a foot wrong defensively. Looked a class act
Alim Ozturk (6/10): Solid
Tom Flanagan (7/10): Netted the opener, but hit-and-miss with his passing.
Denver Hume (6/10): Not as effective as he has been recently, but certainly not bad. Got forward well. Possibly too weak for their goal, although it was a foul and offside!
Max Power (7/10): Dictated play well and commanded the pitch.
George Dobson (7/10): Added tenacity and energy to the midfield.
Lynden Gooch (9/10): Scored a brace and another excellent performance from Gooch. Didn’t stop running until he was eventually subbed off.
Chris Maguire (7/10): Was creative and his pressing led to Gooch grabbing a goal
Charlie Wyke (6/10): Won battles and won free kicks, but never created any clear chances.
Duncan Watmore (6/10): Bright and provided extra energy when the game was won. Ran down a lot of blind alleys though.
Grant Leadbitter (N/A): No time to do anything.