Steve Parkin reacts to Sunderland's superb first-half showing and explains the gameplan that was key

Steve Parkin says Sunderland carried out their gameplan to perfection after climbing to fifth in the League One table.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 1:27 pm

Rochdale have developed a reputation for playing excellent football, playing out from the back whenever possible.

They were blown away in the first half at the Stadium of Light, with the Black Cats executing an aggressive press that saw them surge into a 3-0 lead at the interval.

Jon McLaughlin was barely tested in a one-sided contest, and Parkin says yet another clean sheet underlines the progress that the team are making.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Lynden Gooch celebrates his second goal.

“It was a professional performance,” Parkin said.

“We set out a way we wanted to play today, we wanted to come out the blocks and back up the second half performance at the weekend.

“The lads never gave Rochdale a chance to breathe really, they were right on top of them.

“Tactically, the pressing worked a treat, we were all in our blocks and the lads at the back allowed them to do that properly because they were right up on the halfway line,” he added.

“We’re delighted with the win, the goals and the clean sheet, which is massive for us.

“We knew when we came in we had to work on the number of clean sheets we were keeping.

“It's one of the most important things and if you'll do it, you'll win a lot of games.

“We've got a solid base to attack from and it makes a big difference.”

Parkin says the Black Cats are relishing playing at home after another crucial win.

“We've been more or less playing like that for five or six weeks, getting the ball wide, switching the play, backing that up by getting people on the edge of the box,” he said.

“We lock attacks in and in difficult conditions, some of the play was exceptional.

“Back-to-back home games aren't easy, but I think there's a confidence in the crowd that's got to the players and they enjoy playing here, there's a real enthusiasm about playing at home. They're confident they can put a display on here and that's important.”