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13 February 2021 Venue Stadium of Light Attendance

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

PREVIEW | Sunderland vs Rovers

12 February 2021

Rovers will be looking to get back to winning ways when they travel to face Sunderland in Sky Bet League One this weekend.

Darren Moore’s side were beaten 3-1 at Fleetwood Town in midweek to end a run of five straight wins. 

Sunderland’s recent form 

The Black Cats have won two of their past six league games, stretching back to a home defeat to Plymouth Argyle on January 19. They followed that up with back-to-back 1-0 wins against Shrewsbury and Ipswich Town respectively. 

They have found wins slightly more difficult to come by in recent weeks, and ended January with a 2-2 draw with Gillingham at the Stadium of Light. After another 2-2 draw at MK Dons, they were beaten 2-1 at Shrewsbury in their last outing. 

 

The man in charge 

Lee Johnson replaced Phil Parkinson as Sunderland manager in December 2020. The former Barnsley and Bristol City boss has already taken charge of 15 games, winning seven, drawing five and losing three, giving him an overall win percentage of 46.7% 

 

Ones to watch 

Jordan Jones 

A product of the Middlesbrough academy, it took a move to Scotland for Jones to make a name for himself after an impressive spell at Kilmarnock. The 26-year-old forward spent three seasons at Rugby Park before moving to Rangers on a free transfer in 2019. 

He joined Sunderland on loan until the end of the season in the recent January transfer window. 

 

Aiden McGeady 

After starting his career with Celtic, the Irish international made almost 200 appearances in Scotland before a move to Russian side Spartak Moscow in 2010. He spent four years abroad before returning to the UK to sign for Premier League side Everton. He struggled for regular game-time during his time at Goodison Park though and spent time on loan at Sheffield Wednesday and Preston North End, before a permanent move to Sunderland in the summer of 2017. 

McGeady scored seven goals in his first season at the club and backed that up with a further 14 strikes in the 2018/19 campaign. He hit the back of the net six times in the first half of last season, before spending six months on loan at Charlton Athletic. It took a change of manager for him to appear in the team this season, and he has already made up for lost time with four goals to his name since December. 

 

Charlie Wyke 

The big front-man arrived at Sunderland in 2018 and was seen as a focal point in attack as they looked for an immediate return to the second tier. Having started his career with Middlesbrough, it was with Bradford City where Wyke really made his name in the EFL, notching a number of goals and earning a move back to the north-east with Sunderland.  

Wyke already has 17 goals to his name in all competitions so far this season. 

 

Last time out 

The two sides played out a 1-1 draw when they last met at the Keepmoat Stadium back in November. Grant Leadbitter’s long-range strike looked to have secured all three points for Sunderland, before Fejiri Okenabirhie scored deep into added time to earn a draw for Rovers. 

 

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Match Reports

REPORT | Sunderland 4 Rovers 1

13 February 2021

Rovers still go in search of a win at the Stadium of Light as four Charlie Wyke goals ensure Darren Moore’s men suffer defeat in the North East.

A combination of Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke bore fruit four times as Rovers slipped to consecutive defeats for the first time since October.

Wyke’s first-half hat-trick had given Rovers a mountain to climb but an own goal by keeper Lee Burge early in the second half had provided a glimmer of hope before Wyke and McGeady combined for a fourth.

A better second 45 saw Rovers win two penalties, but they were unable to convert either and ultimately Sunderland were able to see out the game.

Moore made five changes to the side that lost out to Fleetwood Town in midweek with Omar Bogle, Jon Taylor, Madger Gomes, Taylor Richards and Joe Wright all getting starts. Wright was also given the armband in the absence of Tom Anderson who misses out due to a concussion sustained on Tuesday evening.

Wyke gave Sunderland the lead within seven minutes of the start heading in from Aiden McGeady’s corner.

It was the home side’s first shot on target after a relatively even start to the match, but Sunderland took charge of the game from that point on and just five minutes later the combination of McGeady and Wyke struck again.

McGeady got the better of Brad Halliday down Rovers right and dinked an inviting ball into the box – Wyke was quickest to react and headed beyond Balcombe from close range.

Rovers had a better period of play around the twenty-minute mark but - while Richards’ mazy runs were causing the Black Cats some problems - the only time Rovers tested Lee Burge was Richards’ softly hit shot towards the near post.

Taylor could and probably should have got one back in this period – Reece James and Cameron John linked up well down the right – with the former Sunderland man’s cross evading everyone and finding Taylor at the back post in time and space but he skewed the shot wide of the mark.

Despite better play from Rovers, Sunderland and Wyke were able to get a third just on after the half-hour mark with McGeady once again finding Sunderland’s no.9 free in the box to head home his hat-trick. The striker had looked some way offside but it seemed a mis-communication at the back meant James had dropped back playing him on.

The home side could have extended their lead further just before half time with McGeady at the heart of things again. This time, he played a delightful ball into the path of former Rovers loanee Lynden Gooch who was one-on-one with Ellery Balcombe. There was another question of offside, but it didn’t matter as the Brentford-loanee was quick off his line and stuck out a right leg to keep him out.

Moore made a change at half-time with Gomes making way for John Bostock and he had a good early involvement linking up with James to get a ball into Richards in the Sunderland box. He was blocked from reaching the ball and while the challenge put him on the floor – he was never going to get the penalty he wanted.

More good play afforded Matt Smith an effort which was blocked and better play from Rovers earned them a goal when Richards’ effort from the edge of the box came off the post hit Burge on the back which took it in.

Hopes of an unlikely comeback were immediately thwarted as the McGeady-cross-Wyke-header combination earned the home side a fourth.

A breathless ten minutes of football was to continue when a Sunderland defender went down under the challenge of Richards and – presumably thinking he was to be awarded a free-kick - chose to grab the ball with his hand in his own penalty box. Referee Neil Hair pointed to the spot.

Taylor’s effort from 12-yards went down the middle, but it hit the feet of Burge and careened over the crossbar proving it wasn’t to be the no.11’s day.

It was a much improved second half performance from Rovers though Sunderland had no desire to do any more than they were doing and while Rovers were certainly brighter and created more chances than they had in the first - shots from Bogle, James and Bostock were all off target.

Jason Lokilo – who looked bright after his introduction with fifteen minutes to go – used some trickery to unleash an effort but Burge saved, and he was involved again as he won his side a penalty with just a few minutes remaining. Once again, the penalty was down the middle and once again Burge saved.

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