Sunderland's unbeaten start to League One continues after thrilling 4-1 win over Gillingham
Sunderland's entertaining and unbeaten start to life in League One continues after a thrilling 4-1 win over Gillingham.
The game had everything; five goals, superb support from the 2,000 travelling fans and even a marriage proposal!
Sunderland got off to the worst possible start, falling behind after just three minutes but they produced a stunning comeback, Chris Maguire, George Honeyman and Max Power putting
Sunderland 3-1 up after just 20 minutes.
Gillingham pushed them all the way, refusing to give in, but Josh Maja added a decisive fourth in the second half.
The game had everything - including a marriage proposal. Liam Clough, a security steward based in the Sunderland end got engaged to 'Moira', who'd asked him via the PA announcer.
Love was in the air and Love was on the pitch too, Donald replacing the injured Adam Matthews in defence.
The other change saw Reece James come in for Bryan Oviedo.
Both had picked up knocks in the Scunthorpe win but it sparked fresh speculation over Oviedo's future.
It was a blistering start at the Priestfield Stadium, the Gills taking the lead within the opening three minutes in front of the 2,000-strong away fans.
A corner was taken short, ball came from Luke O'Neill, Tom Eaves got up highest to nod into an empty net after Jon McLaughlin rushed out and got nowhere near it.
An awful start, Ross far from impressed. But within 90 seconds he was celebrating an equaliser.
Reece James' corner was flicked on by Glenn Loovens, Maguire at the back post nodded home to make it 1-1 after four minutes.
It was a superb response from the Black Cats and from there, they tore the Gills apart in a devastating spell - Sunderland 3-1 up by the 20 minute mark.
Firstly, a lovely move involving Josh Maja and Lynden Gooch ended with skipper Honeyman firing Sunderland into the lead with 18 minutes on the clock.
It was a lovely strike, helped on its way past Tomas Holy with a deflection.
The away end celebrated wildly. Two minutes later they were celebrating further after Max Power fired Sunderland into a 3-1 lead.
A superb strike from the former Wigan Athletic midfielder from the edge of the D, Power has made a stunning start to life on Wearside, two goals in two games from him.
Sunderland were worthy of their lead and looked a threat everytime they broke forward in their 3-5-2 system but Gillingham remained a threat.
Steve Lovell's side finished the half strongly, Tom Eaves curling an effort wide, with Josh Parker heading inches wide when he should have scored.
Sunderland were under pressure as the half came to an end, Ross not happy with his side inviting pressure.
He'd have been delighted with the comeback though after falling behind so early.
There were no changes for either side at the break, and Gillingham started where they left off, on top.
Loovens had to be alert on more than one occassion to clear the danger, while Cattermole cleared an effort off the line and McLaughlin saved from Parker, diving to his left.
Sunderland were under intense pressure in the opening ten minutes of the second half.
The next goal was going to prove key and it went to Sunderland.
Power engineered a break from the centre of his own half, he released Maguire down the left flank, the ball eventually finding its way to James.
His cut back cross was poor but Gillingham didn't clear, Maja controlled the ball before firing into the corner of the net.
Ross made a switch with 20 minutes to go, Dylan McGeouch on for his debut, replacing Maguire.
McLaughlin then made a last-ditch stop to prevent Gills scoring, sub Elliott List got the better of Love, crossed the ball back to Brandon Hanlan, his effort blocked before Eaves goalbound effort was saved.
Gillingham continued to press but Sunderland were comfortable at 4-1 and saw out the closing stages without too much fuss.
Sunderland climb back up to fourth in League One ahead of Saturday's trip to AFC Wimbledon.
FT: Gillingham 1 Sunderland AFC 4
Gillingham: Holy, O'Neill (List, 70), Ehmer, Zakuani, Garmston, Bingham, Bryne, Charles-Cook (Reilly, 70), Parker, Hanlan (Stevenson, 85), Eaves.
Subs Not Used: Hadler, Mbo, Fuller, Lacey, Nasseri.
Booked: Ehmer (50)
Goals: Eaves (3)
Sunderland: McLaughlin, James, Love (Hume, 78), Loovens, Baldwin, Cattermole, Power (O'Nien, 83), Gooch, Honeyman, Maguire (McGeouch, 68), Maja
Subs Not Used: Ruiter, Ozturk, Embleton, Mumba.
Booked: Cattermole (44), Hume (90)
Goals: Maguire (4), Honeyman (18), Power (20), Maja (59).
Referee: Antony Coggins (Oxfordshire).
Attendance: 8,438 (2,087 from Sunderland)