Impressive Sunderland hit St Mirren for six in convincing friendly win

If Sunderland's pre-season progress has been steady rather than spectacular, then this felt like a significant step forward.
Josh Maja scores his second goal against St MirrenJosh Maja scores his second goal against St Mirren
Josh Maja scores his second goal against St Mirren

A St Mirren side whose competitive season has already begun were swatted aside by the impressive Black Cats, who dictated play right from the early stages.

With a front three of Chris Maguire, Lynden Gooch and Josh Maja threatening from the first whistle, they were convincing victors.

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The Black Cats forced the first opening of the game twelve minutes as Dylan McGeouch drove forward from midfield. He found Gooch who fired just wide of the far post from the edge of the area.

That would be a feature of the first half, with Gooch a constant menace on the right flank and McGeouch showing the full range of his passing, setting the tempo for a Sunderland side patient and largely in control.

St Mirren did go close after quarter of an hour, Jon McLaughlin forced to make a good save from close range as Danny Mullen fired a volley back over his shoulder.

Sunderland, however, were the side making most of the running.

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The end product came when Adam Matthews floated a ball over the top of the defence. Maguire did excellently to collect and turn inside, teeing up Maja whose first time finish easily beat Craig Samson in the St Mirren goal.

It was two ten minutes later as Gooch ran onto a fine through ball and was brought down in the area.

The American impressed in a right-wing berth under Chris Coleman last season and was doing so again here, stepping up to convert the penalty.

St Mirren started the second half brightly, with the sharp Hayden Coulson advancing from left-back and shooting just wide, but the visitors put the game to bed soon after.

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Lee Cattermole found Maja in space, the youngster unselfishly playing Maguire in on the overlap.

Maguire's effort was well saved by substitute goalkeeper Danny Rogers but Gooch was first to the loose ball, cutting in and finishing confidently.

The hosts came close to scoring when Lee Cattermole lost the ball in midfield, with McLaughlin using his body to block a firm effort from substitute Jeff King. Sunderland made it four within a minute. Maja drifted into space on the left flank, moved towards goal and wrong-footed Rogers with a clever finish to the near post.

The rout was far from over, with George Honeyman adding a fifth as he ran onto a cross from the byline and forced the ball home.

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Jack Ross made a raft of changes, with youngster Luke Molyneux getting on the scoresheet shortly before the final whistle.

Maguire, superb throughout the game, released the younger winger and while his effort looked to be heading wide, a deflected pushed into the corner of the goal.

Ross took the applause from all corners of the ground at the final whistle, his new side beginning to take shape.

Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; Love (Hume, 80), Ozturk (Taylor, 84), Flanagan, Matthews; Cattermole (Mumba, 74), McGeouch (Hackett, 84), Honeyman (Kimpioka, 84); Maguire, Gooch (Molyneux, 78), Maja

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Subs: Stryjek

St Mirren XI: Samson (Rogers, 45) , McGinn, Coulson, McGinn (Kellermann, 81), Trialist, Smith (Trialist 78), Baird, Mullen (King 61), Trialist (Stewart, 71), Kpekawa, Macpherson (Erhahon, 61))

Subs: Rogers, Heaton, Flynn, McShane, Stewart, Cooke

Attendance: 3,133