Sunderland continued their promotion push with a 2-0 win over Rochdale on Saturday at the SOL thanks to goals from Dion Sanderson and Charlie Wyke. It was a game where the result was better than the performance, but the victory sees Lee Johnson’s side close the gap on the automatic promotion places.

Lee Johnson made two changes to the side that beat Swindon on Tuesday evening with Ollie Younger making his league debut in place of Lynden Gooch whilst Aiden O’Brien replaced Josh Scowen. Younger started the game at right back meaning Max Power was able to move back into the midfield. Former Sunderland defender Paul McShane started for the visitors, but he was unable to prevent Sunderland getting off to a great start with an early goal.

After five minutes Aiden McGeady showed a great turn of pace to beat his man on the left flank and curl a dangerous ball into the box. No Sunderland player could get on the end of it but then the ref brought play back for a foul on McGeady on the byline. The lads opened the scoring from the set piece with Dion Sanderson notching his first goal for Sunderland when he nodded McGeady’s free kick into the back of the net unmarked at the back post.

Sunderland went close again moments later after the keeper spilled a shot from McFadzean, but Jordan Jones saw his effort blocked by a defender. At the other end Callum McFadzean picked up a yellow card when he hauled down Kwadwo Baah who was trying to latch onto a ball over the top.

After 20 minutes Sunderland were almost caught out by another ball over the top towards Baah but Luke O’Nien did well to recover and block his shot. Sunderland’s early bright start had petered out and ten minutes later Rochdale had another chance after O’Connell was afforded to much space on the edge of the box, but Lee Burge held his effort.

Rochdale should have been level on the half hour when Sunderland went to sleep and allowed McLaughlin to cross from the right. The ball sat kindly for Keohane on the edge of the six-yard box but inexplicably he blazed over with the goal at his mercy. Lee Johnson’s side made the visitors pay as they doubled their lead soon after thanks to another goal from Charlie Wyke. Jordan Jones put in an inch perfect cross from the right wing to the unmarked Wyke who thumped a header into the right-hand corner of the net.

On the stroke of half time Jordan Jones picked up a yellow card for a petulant foul after he felt he had been wronged by a challenge that went unpunished. Then Ollie Younger did well to get in front of Osho in Sunderland’s six-yard box and head clear to preserve the lads’ two goal lead at the break.

Neither side made any changes at half time and Rochdale restarted the game kicking towards the Roker End. There was an early scare for Sunderland when inform Charlie Wyke needed treatment after a clash on the halfway line, but the big frontman was able to continue. However, Lee Johnson was soon forced into an early change after Carl Winchester was injured and was replaced by Josh Scowen. Chris Maguire also came on replacing Ollie Younger which meant Max Power reverted to right back.

Rochdale fashioned another decent chance to get a goal back after a quick free kick by Morley set Humphrys clear in the box, but Lee Burge did well to turn his shot round the post. The game went slightly flat for long periods midway through the second half with neither side really threatening the others goal. With twenty minutes remaining Jordan Jones injected a bit of pace and urgency with a run down the right wing but his cross towards McGeady was cut out.

There was then a break in play as the linesman on the East Stand touchline pulled up with an injury and had to be replaced by the fourth official. Lee Johnson then made his third substitution of the afternoon with Jack Diamond replacing Jordan Jones. With ten minutes remaining Rochdale forced a string of corners as they tried to get something out the game, but Sunderland defended them well and then sprung a counterattack. Diamond and Maguire raced forwards before a cross was put into the box, but O’Brien’s header was saved by the keeper.

With five minutes remaining Rochdale forced Lee Burge into another save after Callum McFadzean made a hash of a second ball by misreading its flight. The ball sat up nicely for Conor Shaughnnessy who volleyed it goal wards with Lee Burge having to grab it at the second attempt after it awkwardly bounced in front of the keeper.

Due to the injury to the official there was 8 minutes of injury time and Lee Johnson made another change with Dan Neil replacing Aiden McGeady. However, the lads saw the game out with ease and with some results going for us elsewhere we’ve made a bit of ground on second place ahead of a massive game on Tuesday.

Final Score: Sunderland 2 Rochdale 0 ALS Man of the Match: Dion Sanderson

Sunderland: Burge; Younger (Maguire 51), Sanderson, O’Nien, McFadzean; Power, Winchester (Scowen 51); Jones (Diamond 77), O’Brien, McGeady (Neil 90), Wyke.

Subs: Subs: Matthews (gk), Vokins, Hawkes.