Exactly what happened as Sunderland come from behind to beat Oxford United amid red card drama
Sunderland welcomed Oxford United to the Stadium of Light in League One this afternoon – looking to extend their ten-game unbeaten run in the division.
The promising run of form had seen Lee Johnson’s side climb to within touching distance of the top two and their automatic promotion hopes were well and truly alive with ten games still to play.
Indeed, the side could have climb ed into the promotion places had results gone their way – but first would have to overcome a stubborn Oxford United side.
Johnson did, however, see his ranks bolstered by the return of two key men with Jordan Jones and Denver Hume both set to be available if needed having recovered from injuries.
Conor McLaughlin also came back into the fold, as Sunderland looked to keep piling the pressure upon pace-setters Hull City and Peterborough United ahead of what looks set to be an intriguing end to the League One campaign.
FT: Sunderland AFC 3-1 Oxford United (Gooch 45, McGeady 81, Power 90; Henry 21)
- Sunderland welcome Oxford United to the Stadium of Light this afternoon (3pm kick-off).
- The Black Cats are unbeaten in their last ten League One games and could climb into the top two with victory today.
- Lee Johnson welcomes Jordan Jones back into the fold.
- Sunderland XI: Burge; McLaughlin, O’Nien, Sanderson, McFadzean; Power, Scowen; Gooch, McGeady, Jones; Wyke
And welcome to our live blog!
After another free midweek, it’s back to League One action for Sunderland as they prepare for the traditional Good Friday fixture.
A win at Bristol Rovers last weekend saw the Black Cats keep up the pressure on the top two - but they will face another stern test of their promotion crednetials against Oxford United today.
But with Lee Johnson set to welcome back some key players, Sunderland will no doubt be high on confidence.
Our team of writers are at the Stadium of Light to bring you a live stream of updates throughout the afternoon, so let’s get cracking...
Sunderland could move into the automatic promotion places for the first time since April 2019 today - and could even move top if results go their way (and there’s a fair swing in goal difference!)
Here’s the rest of the fixtures in League One today:
- Doncaster Rovers v Charlton Athletic (12:30pm)
- Accrington Stanley v Burton Albion
- Crewe Alexandra v Hull City
- Fleetwood Town v Peterborough United
- Ipswich Town v Bristol Rovers
- Northampton Town v Shrewsbury Town
- Plymouth Argyle v AFC Wimbledon
- Portsmouth v Rochdale
- Swindon Town v Blackpool
All are 3pm kick-offs unless stated.
Lincoln City have seen their clash with MK Dons postponed to due to a positive COVID cases at Sincil Bank.
Both Denver Hume and Jordan Jones have stepped-up their injury returns over the past week - and could be involved today.
The duo would naturally add some extra quality to the Sunderland side, but head coach Johnson will have to decide whether to stick or twist.
So what would one of our writers do?
Here’s what Mark Donnelly thinks about the team selection dilemmas:
Mark Donnelly’s predicted Sunderland XI (4-4-2): Burge; Power, O’Nien, Sanderson, McFadzean; Jones, Winchester, Leadbitter, McGeady; Wyke, O’Brien
There are naturally big cases to put forward for both Hume and Jones to be involved today - but I would only start one of the pair. Callum McFadzean has been hitting some form in recent weeks so there seems little need to risk Hume at this stage. In the forward areas, though, you can see how Jones’ return could aid Sunderland - particulalry against an Oxford side who can be tricky to break down.
Speaking to the Oxford Mail, the visiting manager is hoping his side can flourish without the pressure of obtaining a result on Wearside.
He said: “We see it as an opportunity to go there and perform free.
“There was no pressure on them on Friday [against Lincoln] and they performed really well.
“Sometimes people think when there’s no pressure on you you don’t work hard, but sometimes less pressure allows you to work harder and freer.
“That can be a much more difficult challenge for the opposition, rather than a fearful approach with the weight of the world on your shoulders.”
The win at Bristol Rovers last weekend was down in part to a fine set-piece from Aiden McGeady - and the finish from Aiden O’Brien, of course.
And Lee Johnson has explained how extra training ground work on dead ball situations has helped Sunderland.
On Thursday Lee Johnson was asked what the key had been in turning those all too frequent draws into wins.
Sunderland are favourites to claim victory today, with league title sponsors Sky Bet offering odds of 19/20 on a home win.
Oxford are priced at 14/5, while the draw is 23/10.
No surprises who’s being back to scored first, either! It’s Charlie Wyke at 14/5.
Here’s how the two squads are shaping-up ahead of kick-off...
Lee Johnson could welcome both Jordan Jones and Denver Hume back into the fold with the pair having trained this week.
Conor McLaughlin will also be available for selection after returning from international duty, but may not be risked given the quick turnaround following his return.
Bailey Wright and Tom Flanagan are both out, with Jordan Willis and Arbenit Xhemajli longer-term absentees.
Jake Vokins will also likely miss out as he continues to be assessed following a positive COVID-19 test.
The U’s will be without former Black Cat Alex Gorrin, who is still recovering from a tight groin.
But Sam Long and Elliot Lee are in-line to return for Karl Robinson after missing recent fixtures.
Yes - today’s fixture will be available to stream via the club’s official website.
Streaming passes are on sale now at safc.com - priced at £10.