Sunderland AFC 3-0 Rochdale, Stadium of Light
A brace from Lynden Gooch helped Sunderland move to within four points of the automatic promotion places as the Black Cats ran out 3-0 winners against Rochdale.
Gooch’s strikes came either side of an own-goal from Rochdale centre-back Eoghan O’Connell in an action packed first-half.
The win extends Sunderland’s recent impressive run to one loss from the previous 12 matches with seven wins from 10.
Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson named an unchanged side from last Saturday’s crucial win against fellow promotion challengers Ipswich, lining up in the conventional 3-4-3 tactic that’s worked effectively in recent weeks.
The hosts created the first meaningful chance of the game when a cross from Luke O’Nien from the right was put wide from Gooch in the middle.
Gooch made up for his miss just minutes later however, when Chris Maguire swung a delightful ball in from the right for the American to tap home inside the six-yard box.
Sunderland soon found themselves 2-0 up when Gooch fed Maguire down the right whose teasing cross across the box forced Dale centre-half O’Connell to slice the ball into his own net.
The Black Cats were rampant, and netted their third just past the half-hour mark when O’Nien’s shot was well saved by Robert Sanchez only to fall to Gooch to fire home.
Chances were few and far between in the second-half, but the visitors were presented with a great opportunity to pull one back when Aaron Wilbraham latched onto a through ball, but his chip landed on the roof of the net.