Football: Rochdale 1 - 2 Sunderland
Date published: 08 April 2019
Substitute George Honeyman’s last minute goal saw Brian Barry-Murphy go down to his first defeat as Rochdale manager. The midfielder pounced on a Luke O’Nien centre in the 90th minute to slide the ball under Josh Lillis and send the almost 3,400 fans from the North East into a frenzy as they closed the gap on the top two in League One.
Ian Henderson had given Rochdale a first half lead when he coolly finished from inside the box but they couldn’t hold the lead as Charlie Wyke curled an effort around Josh Lillis early in the second half before Honeyman became the hero.
Brian Barry-Murphy named an unchanged from the side that drew with Gillingham last week in his first game since being named permanent manager on Wednesday.
The Black Cats, backed by a healthy number of fans, came into the game on the back of a midweek win over Accrington which had followed defeat at Wembley in the EFL Trophy final.
The opening exchanges were scrappy as both sides matched each other; Sunderland having a couple of half chances which Dale defended. Will Grigg, a £4 million signing from Wigan in the January transfer window, forced a save from Lillis whilst Charlie Wyke was denied by some brilliant defending from McNulty.
Dale took the lead through their captain and leading scorer Ian Henderson just short of the half hour. Joe Bunney’s left wing cross deflected to Henderson who took a touch before firing into the bottom left hand corner for his 19th of the season.
Olly Rathbone's dipping volley from distance almost sneaked inside the right hand post with Sunderland's keeper, McLaughlin scrambling to get back whilst Josh Lillis brilliantly denied Max Power from 20 yards with a save from the top corner.
Sunderland manager Jack Ross must have got into his players at the interval as they came out fighting and soon drew level. Wyke turned on the edge of the area and slotted a shot into the bottom right hand corner beyond the despairing dive of Lillis.
Scotland international goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin just about tipped away what would have been a spectacular own goal when Baldwin beat Henderson to the ball but inadvertently looped the ball back towards his own goal; the keeper racing back to tip it over.
Dale substitute Jordan Williams glanced a header wide of the far post when he rose highest to meet a Joe Bunney cross as the home side looked to edge in front once more but it was Sunderland who got the winner.
Luke O’Nien got forward down the right to beat Dooley with his low cross causing the Dale defence problems and when Honeyman stole in ahead of Ntlhe; the 24 year old slotted in.
The defeat leaves Dale still languishing in the relegation zone but with their game in hand against Accrington coming up this Tuesday, Barry-Murphy’s men could climb out of the bottom four with a win.
Rochdale: Lillis, Ebanks-Landell, McNulty, Ntlhe, McLaughlin, Bunney, Camps, Rathbone, Done (Dooley 65), Wilbraham (J Williams 69), Henderson © (Inman 80)
Subs: (not used) Wade, MJ Williams, Keohane, Hamilton
Sunderland: McLaughlin, O’Nien, Baldwin, Flanagan, Hume (Oviedo 61), Gouch (Honeyman 32), McGeouch, Power ©, Morgan (Sterling 79), Wyke, Grigg
Subs: (not used) Ruiter, Ozturk, Leadbitter, Dunne
Referee: Mr C Boyeson
Assistants: Mr D Avent & Mr K Mulraine
Fourth Official: Mr B Smallwood
Attendance: 6,546 (3,378 from Sunderland)
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