Sunderland AFC 3-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Sunderland continued their 100% home record in the Wearside sunshine on Saturday afternoon, putting Wycombe Wanderers to the sword by three goals to one.
Ross Stewart added to his impressive early-season tally with a goal in each half, sandwiching a beautiful strike from Elliot Embleton to make it two before the break.
David Wheeler’s deflected shot denied the Black Cats a clean sheet in injury time, but top of the league is where the hosts sit this Saturday night, with 12 points from the opening five games.
Lee Johnson made a solitary change to the winning side against AFC Wimbledon in the team’s last Sky Bet League One outing, Dennis Cirkin replacing Alex Pritchard as Dan Neil moved into midfield.
Wycombe took the early stages of the game to the Lads, with Sullay Kaikai looking particularly lively on the right-hand side.
But an eager Sunderland side backed by an ever-vocal crowd stamped down a marker a quarter of an hour in, netting their first chance as Stewart rose highest to head Embleton’s delivery past David Stockdale.
And it was two just moments later through a sensational goal. On picking the ball up on the right-hand side, a lovely one-touch move with Lynden Gooch saw Embleton then curl it exquisitely into the far corner with his left foot from outside the area to give the Lads a commanding lead inside 18 minutes.
A significant incident was missed by the officials midway through the first half, as Luke O’Nien appeared to be struck by the visitors’ Daryl Horgan. The Wycombe man evaded action from the referee and the game continued 11v11.
Whilst clear-cut chances came sporadically, the Black Cats were clinical to see them through to the break with a two-goal advantage. Carl Winchester’s wide effort from 20 yards out came 33 minutes in, shortly after Kaikai’s flash across goal which deflected back to Anthony Patterson.
The second half began in a similar positive and spritely manner from the Lads, Winchester forcing Stockdale into a spill before the Wycombe defence cleared, then Dan Neil fired off target with a stretching shot 20 yards from goal.
Ainsworth’s side threatened midway through the second half as Kaikai struck over from Joe Jacobson’s square free-kick, before Dennis Cirkin flashed a long-range hit past the far post.
As much as Wycombe looked to make the game a battle – Adebayo Akinfenwa entering the fray with 16 minutes remaining and testing Patterson after Horgan had worked himself an opportunity – Sunderland controlled much of the tempo with some patient possession and managed the buffer excellently from defence to attack.
And the third goal arrived through an excellently driving run by Neil, who timed his pass perfectly to Stewart to clinically tuck away his second of the afternoon in front of the Roker End.
A fine afternoon’s work was only marginally dampened by Wheeler’s deflected hit to provide Wycombe a consolation two minutes into added time, but the Lads saw out a fine win to move to the league summit.
SUNDERLAND AFC: Patterson; Winchester, Flanagan, Doyle, Cirkin (Wright 86’); O’Nien, Neil; Gooch, Embleton (O’Brien 86’), McGeady © (Pritchard 86’); Stewart.
Subs not used: Burge, Huggins, Alves, Broadhead.
Wycombe Wanderers: Stockdale, Grimmer, Jacobson ©, Tafazolli, Thompson, Vokes (Akinfenwa 74’), Kaikai (De Barr 74’), Horgan, Mehmeti (Wheeler 68’), Obita, Scowen.
Subs not used: Przybek, Dickinson, Pendlebury, Burley.