The weekend is here and Sunderland’s promotion bid for set for another examination, with Rochdale ready and waiting.
Wednesday’s win over Accrington Stanley was sweet. In a game where the Lads went into it with the pressure sky high, after last Sunday’s penalty shootout defeat to Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy Final, Jack Ross’ side showed plenty of grit and resolve as they brushed aside their opponents at the Wham Stadium.
Aiden McGeady smacked home a beauty with just four minutes on the clock to give Sunderland a deserved advantage after they flew out the traps, with Will Grigg and Charlie Wyke both going close in the opening minutes.
Grigg got his goal, though. An unorthodox route one punt down field from stopper Jon McLaughlin bounced kindly for the striker and the striker oozed class as he rolled the ball through the ‘keepers’ legs to double the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Second-half substitute Kaz Sterling then had the red and white army smiling once more as he bagged his first goal in senior football to round off a pleasing night for the Lads.
Now just three points off Barnsley with two games in hand – the race for promotion is on.
Up next, Rochdale…
Sitting 23rd in the table, Dale have had a turn of fortunates recently under the caretaker stewardship of Brian Barry-Murphy and are unbeaten in their last four matches having taken eight points.
Prior to that, a run of 12 games where they had taken just four points, led to the sacking of Keith Hill, left them in the relegation zone with seven games to game.
Unbeaten in the league since December, Ross’ side will be targeting maximum points once more with Luton Town playing play-off contenders Blackpool and Barnsley away at Burton Albion.
Sunderland remain without Lee Cattermole and Reece James while there’s some doubt over the fitness of Aiden McGeady who went off at half-time on Wednesday.
Chris Maguire, Adam Matthews and Duncan Watmore remain out as well.
DON’T MISS THE ACTION
Sunderland take on Rochdale at Spotland at 3pm on Saturday afternoon.
BBC Radio Newcastle’s Nick Barnes will be broadcasting live right here on safc.com from 7pm.
As ever, there will be comprehensive coverage across our digital channels including safc.com’s matchday blog and live updates on Twitter via @SunderlandAFC.