4,000 Sunderland fans roar their side onto victory as slump stops at Doncaster Rovers
Sunderland secured their first league win since November 2nd with a much improved display at Doncaster Rovers.
A stunning early goal from Lynden Gooch set the Black Cats on their way, and though Jon Taylor brought the home side level before the break, Chris Maguire secured a much deserved win in the second half.
Sunderland came into the game under immense pressure, dropping to 15th in the league and with a number of fan groups launching a campaign to urge Stewart Donald to enact change both in the dugout and the boardroom.
The Black Cats were nevertheless backed by a raucous following of 4,000, right behind their team from the off.
Parkinson had stuck with the same shape that had struggled to secure three points in recent weeks, but their pressing and attacking intent was strong and they had a deam start just six minutes in.
Sunderland took a free kick quickly just inside Doncaster’s half, Chris Maguire playing the ball infield to Lynden Gooch from the right flank.
Anticipating a ball into the box, the hosts made the mistake of showing the attacking midfielder inside onto his left foot. The 24-year-old, who played on loan here in the early stages of his career, needed no further invitation and furled a glorious effort that flew into the top corner, Seny Dieng comprehensively beaten in the Doncaster goal.
Sunderland were dominant, Charlie Wyke flashing an effort just over the crossbar after good play from Luke O’Nien.
Though Jon Taylor had Jon McLaughlin scrambling across his line with a decent early effort, the vast majority of the game was being played in the home side’s half. Wyke drew a superb stop from Dieng when he curled an effort towards the far corner from the left-hand edge of the box as Sunderland turned the screw.
Their entries into the final third became less frequent as the half developed, but they retained contol of the game.
Doncaster were eager to try and play the ball out from the back but persisting with a high line, Sunderland gave them few options in possession and their defence looked uncertain.
It took just one lapse in concentration for Parkinson’s side to be punished, Doncaster launching a swift counter that saw Ben Whiteman gather the ball in space. He drove forward and showed excellent composure to release Kieran Sadlier in space down the left flank.
His low cross to the back post was inch perfect, and though McLaughlin got a strong hand to Taylor’s effort, he could not keep the ball from crossing the line.
It was a bitter blow to the Black Cats who had looked so comfortable, and they almost regained their lead just before the interval when Chris Maguires struck the crossbar with a fine free kick from distance.
They ought to have scored just minutes into the second period, Alim Ozturk rising to meet a good free kick into the near post. His flick fell to Wyke at the back post, but the striker turned the ball over the bar from just yards out.
It was proving to be a far more open contest than in the first half, both sides let down by just a touch of composure in the final third as the game swung from end to end.
Doncaster went close when Sadlier rose to head a cross wide, but Sunderland roared back into the lead shortly after with an excellent team goal.
Gooch showed good persistence to fight off the challenge from Brad Halliday, playing in the onrushing Hume on the overlap.
His low cross found its target, Chris Maguire unmarked and showing his composure to fire the ball into the bottom corner.
The home side responded well, McLaughlin showing good awareness to get down to his right and turn a strong effort from Sadlier away from goal.
Sadlier missed an even better opening just moments later, heading straight at McLaughlin after a cross from Taylor.
A pulsating contest continued to ebb and flow and the Black Cats were denied a thrid only by a stunning save from Dieng.
Gooch again did superbly to get free in the left channel, standing up a superb cross. O’Nien towered above his marker and was immensely unfortunate not to extend his side’s lead.
Though they had threatened briefly after the goal, Doncaster had lost momentum and Sunderland saw the game out with ease, much to the delight of their outstanding support.
Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; O’Nien, Willis, Ozturk, Lynch, Hume; Power, Dobson, Maguire, Gooch (Watmore, 79); Wyke
Subs: Burge, McLaughlin, McNulty, Grigg, Leadbitter, De Bock
Doncaster Rovers XI: Dieng; Halliday, Wright, Anderson, John (Thomas, 80); Whiteman, Gomes; Sadlier, Coppinger (Watters, 90), Taylor; Ennis
Subs: Lawlor, James, Sheaf, Greaves, Daniels
Bookings: Lynch, 33 Gooch, 54 Ozturk, 70 John, 73 Dobson, 90
Attendance: 12,432 (4,070 away)