Football: Sunderland 2 - 0 Rochdale
Date published: 08 March 2021
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Rochdale sank to the bottom of Sky Bet League One after their third 2-0 defeat on the bounce, at promotion hopefuls Sunderland. Defeat for Brian Barry-Murphy’s side sees their poor run of form continue, with just one win in their last sixteen games.
Having seen Conor Shaughnessy’s red card from the midweek defeat at Hull overturned on appeal, the February signing started the game at Sunderland, as the Dale manager made just one change from the trip to Hull on Tuesday. Kwadwo Baah started ahead of Alex Newby who dropped to the bench.
Sunderland have been in good form since they changed their manager in December with Lee Johnson tasting defeat in just two of his twenty-one games in charge, so this game was always going to be a tough ask for Dale.
The hosts, who were playing Premier League football just four years ago, took the lead with their first attack. Aiden McGeady used his pace down the left flank where he was fouled by Ryan McLaughlin near the corner flag. McGeady got up to send the free-kick towards the back post for on loan Wolves defender Dion Sanderson to head inside the post for his first career goal.
Sunderland looked hungry and almost got a second minutes later through Jordan Jones. McGeady’s angled shot was spilled by Gavin Bazunu at the feet of Jones with the on loan Rangers man denied by a brilliant bit of defending from Jimmy Keohane who threw himself at the ball to block.
Dale’s attacking threat has been virtually none for the last few games, but they improved as the first half wore on and had some good chances that they squandered. Aaron Morley’s perfectly weighted ball over the top found Kwadwo Baah inside the area; his control letting him down meaning a poked shot at goal was blocked by Luke O’Nien.
Eoghan O’Connell tried his luck from 25 yards out although his curling shot was catching practice for Lee Burge.
Dale’s best chance of the first half came on 33 minutes. A well worked move down the right saw McLaughlin send a low cross into the area. Jimmy Keohane was the furthest man forward with the defender blazing over from the edge of the six-yard box with the goal at his mercy.
That miss would prove crucial as 120 seconds later, Sunderland doubled their lead. Jones found himself in space down the right with his early cross perfect for the unmarked Charlie Wyke to head home his 25th goal of the season.
It was a huge blow to the visitors who felt they had done enough to be level going into the break. The hosts were clinical with their finishing whereas Dale were wasteful and this showed in the first half stoppage time. A Dale attack saw Paul McShane head the ball back into the danger area and with his back to goal, Conor Grant tried to turn the ball in from close range, but he missed the ball completely and Burge picked up.
The second half saw little goal mouth action although Dale slightly edged the half with Sunderland seemingly happy with the score line.
Shots on target have been few and far between in the last four games with opposition goalkeepers having easy games but Burge did brilliantly to deny Humphrys ten minutes after the re-start. A quickly taken free kick from Morley found Humphrys in on goal; Burge pushing his goal bound shot around the post.
Shaughnessy saw a late volley drop straight into the hands of the Sunderland keeper as the Black Cats comfortably saw out the reminder of the game.
Rochdale: Bazunu, McLaughlin (Done 87), Osho (Newby 68), McShane, Keohane, Baah, Morley, O’Connell ©, Shaughnessy, Grant, Humphrys
Substitutes: (not used) Lynch, Roberts, Hopper. McNulty, Odoh
Sunderland: Burge, Younger (Maguire 52), O’Nien, Sanderson, McFadzean, Power, Winchester (Scowen 52), O’Brien, Jones (Diamond 78), McGeady (Neil 90), Wyke
Substitutes: (not used) Matthews, Vokins, Hawkes
Referee: Mr R Joyce
Assistants: Mr G Mellor & Mr S Wade
Fourth Official: Mr G Rhodes
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