'It’s massive for us': Lynden Gooch reveals key asset which helped Sunderland beat Wigan Athletic
A crowd of 31,549 helped generate a lively atmosphere as Lee Johnson’s side beat Wigan Athletic 2-1 at the Stadium of Light on the opening day of the season.
After falling behind to Gwion Edwards’ opener inside 15 minutes, Sunderland drew level immediately when Ross Stewart was fouled in the penalty area and Aiden McGeady converted from the spot.
“Of course that always helps,” said Gooch, 25, when asked about the side’s quick response. “It was a good reaction and was good to get back on level terms straight away.”
The fast start prompted both sets of fans to increase the volume, and the home supporters were cheering again when Stewart headed Sunderland ahead eight minutes after half-time.
It was the first time since March 2020 that a crowd of around 30,000 had attended a game at the Stadium of Light, and the atmosphere gave everyone a big lift.
“It was brilliant,” Gooch, who has been at the club since he was a teenager, explained. “Obviously I know what the fans can give us, they can give us a massive lift.
“We went 1-0 down and they didn’t boo us, they stayed with us so that’s big and we’ll need them all year. It was great to have them back.
“It was tough last season. Teams can come here and be like woh! whereas last season you didn’t have that, you could hear a pin drop."
Wigan’s starting XI included former Sunderland players Max Power and Charlie Wyke, while Jordan Jones, who spent the second half of last season on loan with the Wearsiders, came off the bench.
The Black Cats also included some new signings in their line-up as 17-year-old Callum Doyle and recently-appointed captain Corry Evans made their senior debuts in front of a large crowd.
“I think a lot of players wouldn’t have played in that atmosphere before,” added Gooch. “They had a couple of lads who have been here for a few years as well which they probably tried to tell them what it’s going to be like but it’s massive for us.”
“I think for young Cal to experience that on his debut was brilliant so for us it helps us massively and I’ve seen it in previous seasons where our crowd can affect other teams, get on top of them and play sloppy balls, kick the ball out of play.
When asked how Sunderland’s new signings have settled in, Gooch replied: “Brilliant. Corry I thought was outstanding and the same with Cal.
“It was always going to be a tough game against Charlie so I thought he dealt with it really well.”
Gooch also admitted it was strange coming up against Wyke and Power following their time together on Wearside.
“They are probably my two closest mates as well," Gooch revealed. “I still speak to them most days.
“It’s a bit strange seeing them on the other side but it was a good battle. I spoke to them yesterday a little bit but we had to tone it down.
“I’ll see them in a minute and just said all the best afterwards. They are close friends.”