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Sunderland (A) match preview

18 April 2019

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Rovers are on the road for the first of their Easter holiday fixtures as they travel to face Sunderland on Good Friday.

Rovers have won their last four games in Sky Bet League One, with the latest coming in a 2-0 win over Plymouth Argyle at home last weekend.

Sunderland will be looking to get back to winning ways on the other hand following their 5-4 defeat at home to Coventry City last Saturday.

Brief history of Sunderland AFC

Sunderland play at the 49,000-capacity Stadium of Light stadium, which has been their home since 1997 following their move from their former home, Roker Park.

They are nicknamed the Black Cats, with a number of different reasons for this nickname. One is that Sunderland players were pictured with black cats outside of Roker Park in the early 1900’s, with another reason being that a supporter called Billy Morris took a black cat in his top pocket to their 1937 FA Cup final victory.

The 1937 win in the FA Cup was their first ever success in that tournament, going on to win it just once more in 1973. The Black Cats have been promoted into English football’s top division six times, winning the league for five of those promotions, with the last coming in 2007 under the stewardship of Roy Keane.

Sunderland entered League One ahead of this season following their relegation from the Championship, finishing bottom. This came after their relegation from the Premier League the season before, also finishing bottom, meaning that for the first time in 31 years, the Black Cats would be playing third tier football.

Who’s the gaffer?

Jack Ross is the man tasked with getting Sunderland back into the Championship at the first attempt, having taken the reins at the Stadium of Light over the summer.

Ross previously spent two years in charge of Scottish side St Mirren, leading them back to the Scottish Premiership last season after winning the Championship title emphatically, and winning the PFA Scotland Manager of the Year in the process.

So far, Ross has overseen 53 games in charge of the Black Cats, winning 28 of those, drawing 20 and losing just five, leaving him with a current win percentage of 52.83 per cent.

Ones to watch

Aiden McGeady

The Irish international winger was named on the shortlist for League One’s Player of the Year following a stellar year on Wearside, hitting double figures for the first time as a Black Cat. McGeady has 11 goals from midfield for Jack Ross’ men in the league, as well as scoring both of Sunderland’s goals in their recent Checkatrade Trophy final defeat to Portsmouth. He joined the Black Cats in 2017 following his departure from Everton, and he has also enjoyed time playing in Russia with Spartak Moscow for four years. This all came after his time with Scottish giants Celtic, being a part of the side that won three Scottish Premier League titles in a row, as well as two Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups between 2006 and 2009.

Will Grigg

The Northern Irish international is a man on fire in this division, having led the line for Wigan Athletic to win League One twice in three seasons, with the most recent coming last term. Grigg scored the winner on the final day of last season in a 1-0 win for the Latics over Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium to secure the league title, finishing up with 26 goals in all competitions. Grigg has also won promotion from League One with Brentford in 2014, as well as Milton Keynes the following year, and after signing for the Black Cats late on in the last transfer window, he is now in search of making it a fifth promotion from the third tier. Grigg has also made 13 appearances for Northern Ireland, scoring twice with goals against Belarus and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

George Honeyman

The Black Cats academy graduate was named as the club captain at the age of 23 following the relegation to League One. Honeyman joined Sunderland’s academy at the age of 10, enjoying a 15-year association with the club thus far. He made his debut in an FA Cup game away at Charlton Athletic in February 2015, and also spent time on loan at nearby Gateshead in October of that season, scoring his first ever professional goal for the Heed, the winner in a 3-2 win over Boreham Wood. His first Black Cats goal came in August 2017, the winner in a 1-0 win away at Bury in the EFL Cup, before scoring his first league goal six days later in a 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday.

Who’s the ref?

Andy Woolmer will be the man in the middle when the two sides meet on Good Friday, and you can read more about him here.

Last time out

Sunderland came out on top when the two sides met at the Keepmoat Stadium back in October, with Aiden McGeady grabbing the only goal in the 1-0 win.

You’d have to go all the way back to January 1954 for the last time Rovers won away at Sunderland, securing a 2-0 win over the Black Cats at their former home of Roker Park in an FA Cup third round tie.

Tickets for Rovers next Sky Bet League One home game against Accrington Stanley on Tuesday April 23 are still available via the Club Doncaster Box Office. Purchase yours now by either visiting in-store at the Keepmoat Stadium, by calling on 01302 762576, or online at tickets.clubdoncaster.co.uk.


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