Match Report: Lads maintain 100% start at MK

Milton Keynes Dons 1-2 Sunderland AFC

Sunderland made it three games, three wins, three 2-1 scorelines on Saturday afternoon after taking three points from Stadium MK against Milton Keynes Dons.

Ross Stewart netted his second in as many Sky Bet League One games just before half-time, before Elliot Embleton made it two with his first senior league strike for Sunderland.

Troy Parrott finished a consolation strike for the hosts before Andrew Fisher kept out Lynden Gooch’s penalty late on, but Lee Johnson’s men did enough to complete the task.

Johnson made just one change to his team's last league outing against Wigan Athletic seven days ago, Dennis Cirkin coming in for his debut at left-back as Luke O'Nien missed out due to illness.

In a slow-burning start to the game in terms of chances on goal – but still one with plenty of tenacity from the Lads – Gooch struck the first attempt on target 12 minutes in from 25 yards out, which Fisher palmed away.

Tom Flanagan was alert to make a well executed block from Scott Twine’s shot some time later, and midway through the half intercepted a dangerous Daniel Harvie ball from the left.

Tennai Watson passed up potentially the best Dons chance of the half when he fired over eight yards from goal at the far post, and Lee Burge’s first action was a routine stop from Twine’s central free-kick. Twine later shot wide under pressure from Burge as MK looked to stamp a marker down.

A good move seven minutes from the break saw Stewart carve out his first sniff of goal, timing his run perfectly to beat his marker to Gooch’s whipped ball from the right – diverting his header into the dive of Fisher.

But it was his second bite of the cherry which came to fruition. A nice break forward saw Embleton find Dan Neil and one further to Aiden McGeady – he provided the assist yet again with a threatening ball from the left – Fisher’s intervention not enough, as the rangy striker bundled it over the line from close range.

The start to the second half evidently saw Johnson rally the side for more of the same, and just rewards arrived seven minutes into the 45 when Dan Neil’s guided pass picked out Embleton. Beating the offside trap and bewildering the Dons’ defence, he expertly finished high into the net to double the lead.

MK were not to be silenced easily, and pulled one back just moments later to halve the deficit, Parrott finding space inside the area to steer a side-footed finish into the far corner beyond Burge.

The momentum swung the way of the home side following the goal and the Lads were forced to weather somewhat of a storm, Burge doing well to deny Mo Eisa from a tight angle after captain Corry Evans was forced to limp off with an injury. The goalkeeper was drawn into further action with a strong tip over the bar to deny Parrott’s chipped effort.

The chance to seal the game in the Black Cats’ favour arrived seven minutes from time, Stewart drawing a trip from the MK defence with the referee pointing to the penalty spot. Gooch stepped up and aimed towards the goalkeeper’s left, but Fisher got down quickly to take in the spot-kick and prevent further damage.

So it continued, the Lads alert at the back to soak up the tide from Liam Manning’s side, although O’Brien’s ball to Stewart created a chance at the other end, the Scotsman flashing it across the face of goal.

The resolute nature of the finale from the Lads was enough to complete the task of maintaining the 100% record, and the three points are taken back to Wearside.

SUNDERLAND AFC: Burge; Winchester, Flanagan, Doyle, Cirkin (Wright 72’); Evans © (Pritchard 62’), Neil; Gooch, Embleton, McGeady (O’Brien 72’); Stewart.

Subs not used: Patterson, Taylor, Diamond, Hawkes.

MK Dons: Fisher, Watson (Martin 87’), Jules, O’Hora, Darling, O’Riley ©, Twine (Boateng 86’), Eisa (McEachran 75’), Robson, Parrott, Harvie.

Subs not used: Ravizzoli, Lewington, Brown, Baldwin.

Attendance: 9,830 – 2,930 SAFC supporters

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