Sunderland’s promotion charge continued on Saturday afternoon with a 3 – 0 victory with over ten man Bristol Rovers at a freezing cold and windswept SOL. Second half goals from Lynden Gooch, Charlie Wyke and Luke O’Nien were enough to beat the visitors who were reduced to ten men midway through the second half after Ogogo saw red after a clash with Chris Maguire.

Phil Parkinson made one change to the side that won at Oxford last weekend with Alim Ozturk replacing the injured Bailey Wright. New signing Tommy Smith was included in the squad on the bench after being signed as cover for the injured Wright.

The visitors got the game underway kicking towards the North Stand and there was an early free kick for Rovers after a foul from Dobson but we dealt with it well. We immediately went on the attack down the other end with Wyke latching onto a long ball over the top but it came to nothing. Rovers then had a good effort on goal with a cross from the right finding Clarke-Harris but McLaughlin did well to save his powerful header. Our first chance came after six minutes when Wyke and Maguire combined on the edge of the box but the Scot’s effort was well over the bar.

We then won a free kick just before the ten minute mark after Maguire was fouled on the edge of the box. Maguire took the free kick and he went low with his shot but the keeper held it. Five minutes later we went close after a good passage of play from the lads eventually saw the ball worked to the left flank with Hume crossing into the box but Wyke just missed the target with his flicked volley. Two minutes later Sunderland almost scored after Hume saw a shot blocked on the line which prompted a chaotic scramble but the Bristol Rover’s keeper eventually gathered the ball.

After half an hour Gooch went into the book after a late challenge on the right wing which angered the crowd as a string of decisions had went against the lads. The Bristol Rovers manager had made a point of saying before the game that he wanted a strong referee who wouldn’t be influenced by the crowd so perhaps the referee was playing up to this.

Ten minutes before half time we almost fashioned a chance after a good move saw Maguire and Willis link up but Maguire overran the ball for a goal kick. Five minutes later Willis did brilliantly on the right to get in a good position and deliver a great cross which was be begging to be put into the back of the net but there was no one there in red and white to convert it. We the had a shout for a O’Nien tumbled in the box but the ref only awarded a corner which Maguire swung in but the ref blew for a foul. Right before half time we almost scored after Hume put in a great cross for O’Nien who did fantastically to hang at the back post but he thumped his header over the bar.

After the break we had a half chance after Flanagan swung in a free kick to the back post but Hume saw his effort blocked. The game got a bit niggly with a load of fouls whilst the visitors were happy to waste time and run the clock down at every opportunity – ten minutes after the restart Craig was booked for a cynical foul on the halfway line.

With half an hour to play the visitors were reduced to ten men after Ogogo saw red following an off the ball clash with Chris Maguire. The lads went straight on the offensive with the man advantage with Ozturk winning a corner was cleared. We then forced another corner on the other wing after good work from Hume on the left but O’Nien glanced a header wide. With twenty minutes left to play we almost scored after Willis saw a shot blocked on the line which caused another goal mouth scramble with Wyke unable to capitalise.

We eventually took the lead a minute later after Lynden Gooch opened the scoring after he tucked away a cross from Chris Maguire with his left foot. Almost immediately the lads doubled the lead after Charlie Wyke latched onto a flick from Maguire to beat the offside trap and then round the keeper before slotting he ball into the back of the net.

With ten minutes left Parkinson made his first change as Semenyo replaced Lynden Gooch. Just prior to this the American went close with a left footed effort which the keeper held low at his near post. The lads did get a third soon after with O’Nien finding the back of the net albeit with a deflection with a left footed shot from the edge of the box.

Five minutes before full time Parkinson made a double change with Watmore replacing Maguire and Lafferty replacing Wyke. There was four minutes added time which we saw out comfortably to seal the points and another good victory. In fact we should have had a fourth at the death but O’Nien blazed over the bar after good work by Semenyo.

Final Score: Sunderland 3 Bristol Rovers 0

ALS Man of the Match: Chris Maguire