Sunderland AFC 1-3 Lincoln City
Ten-man Sunderland were left frustrated at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night as Chris Maguire’s hat-trick sealed victory for Lincoln City on Wearside.
The former Black Cat opened the scoring after 31 minutes, before doubling it with a penalty which also saw Carl Winchester sent off as the last man.
Ross Stewart’s rebound from an initial penalty save from Josh Griffiths cut the deficit before a threatening spell in search of an equaliser, but a third from Maguire on the counter-attack took the wind out of the Sunderland sails.
An even start saw an absence of any significant goalmouth action, and on another day Maguire could himself have seen red, for a high studs-up challenge on Winchester just minutes into the game - a yellow card eventually brandished.
But the opener arrived for the visitors courtesy of the same player just after the half-hour mark, as he sent a roaring effort into the net first-time despite the glove of Anthony Patterson.
The first half was devoid of too many direct opportunities at either end, but after Lincoln had made the most of theirs, Sunderland were narrowly close to making amends but for a strong stop from Griffiths to deny Tom Flanagan’s header.
After the break, the Lads looked to make a quick impact when Stewart’s header deflected behind off a Lincoln head, but the away side would be soon to make it two when Maguire succeeded in getting in behind and through against Patterson.
Winchester’s intervention inside the area resulted in a penalty and a red card for the Northern Irishman, and Maguire left to fire the spot-kick into the corner for two.
There was no choice but to respond now for Lee Johnson’s side, and they did just that midway through the half, as Alex Pritchard was brought down in the area – the referee once again awarding the penalty.
Stewart’s initial effort to Griffiths’ left was initially saved by the goalkeeper, but he was unable to claw back the loose ball as the Scotsman made it 18 league goals for the season with the rebound.
The goal back spurred Sunderland into life and the hosts would twice go close again, Stewart’s looping header cleared off the line by Regan Poole before Elliot Embleton was thwarted by Griffiths. From the resulting corner, Stewart’s headed another effort wide.
Substitute Denver Hume then saw a deflected shot arrow wide as the Lads put Lincoln under increasing pressure, but a counter-attack from the resulting corner saw Maguire put through, completing a treble with a clinical finish.
A late scuffle on the touchline in the final minute of added time saw Johnson sent down the tunnel by the referee, before the final whistle was blown.
The Lads will now look to make amends at Accrington Stanley on Saturday.
SUNDERLAND AFC: Patterson; Gooch, Flanagan ©, Doyle, Cirkin (D. Hume 65’); Winchester, Neil; Embleton, Pritchard (Hawkes 80’), Diamond (O’Brien 65’); Stewart.
Subs not used: Carney, Taylor, Xhemajli, Younger.
Lincoln City: Griffiths; Bishop, Poole, Eyoma, Bramall; Sanders, McGrandles ©, Fiorini; Whittaker (Robson 85’), Maguire, Adelakun (Sorensen 77’).
Subs not used: Long, Melbourne.