Fleetwood Town lost out in a tough battle against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night.
The Black Cats opened the scoring as Aiden O’Brien’s header found the back of the net midway through the second half. The Cod Army soaked up the hosts’ pressure but couldn’t work a way back into the game despite the three substitutions The home side doubled their lead in the last ten minutes as Max Power headed past Alex Cairns at the back post.
After a good spell of possession by Town in the opening five minutes, the visitors started the game on the front foot working the ball down the left with Harrison Holgate and Danny Andrew whose cross from the side of the box forced a stretched block out of Dion Sanderson which was directed away for a Fleetwood corner - which came to nothing.
Town continued to test the Black Cats’ defence in the opening ten minutes as James Hill’s ball over the top found Kyle Vassell whose stretching effort to get the ball across the face of goal was intended for Harvey Saunders, but the striker couldn’t capitalise, and Sanderson could clear the hosts’ lines the second time of asking.
Before the 20-minute-mark the hosts’ started to have their own chances as Conor McLaughlin’s ball from the right flank found Aiden McGeady in the middle of the park, whose effort from 18 yards out was blocked bravely by Hill.
The Black Cats started to up the tempo as Lynden Gooch anticipated Jordan Rossiter’s pass forward and drove through three grey-shirts, played it wide to McGeady whose floating ball into the box from the left was dealt well by Town.
The hosts came forward again as this time Max Power’s effort from 25-yards out didn’t test Cairns and flew wide of the post.
Fleetwood tried to carve a chance out of their own just before the half-hour mark as Dan Batty drifted a free kick into the box from a central position which found Callum Connolly, whose header into the six-yard area asked a few questions of the home side’s defensive duties, but Luke O’Nien emphatically sent the ball away from danger.
A heroic tackle from Holgate denied Charlie Wyke a golden-opportunity to open the scoring came soon after the Cod Army had the ball in the opposing box, as both sides were yet to really test the opponent’s goalkeeper.
Early into the second half, Town worked the ball from left to right as Janoi Donacien’s clever throw-in which was taken quickly found Harvey Saunders who cheekily nutmegged O’Nien to create a yard of space as Batty picked up the loose ball, but Dan Batty’s cross into the box was met by Callum McFadzean and cleared away.
Just short of the hour mark, Lynden Gooch nearly broke the deadlock, but Cairns was fast to come off his line and match the chipped attempt.
The deadlock was broken with an hour played as O’Brien met McGeady’s cross into the box with his head and guided it past Cairns into the bottom corner of the goal.
A number of tactical changes from Simon Grayson in a hope of getting at Sunderland’s back-line where with Shayden Morris’ introduction it showed more intent from Town as S.Morris looked to drive forward taking on two Sunderland men but his final ball into the box was caught by Lee Burge.
Despite Town’s best efforts of getting into the game with a number of chances coming from the left-hand side, as Andrew and Wes Burns combined well to get the ball into the box, but the attack fizzled out.
The scoreline was doubled from the hosts as an unmarked Max Power headed home from a corner with less than ten to go.
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Andrew, Connolly (C), Duffy (Biggins 58’), Rossiter, Vassell, Saunders (Burns 58’), Donacien, Batty (Camps 78’), Holgate (S.Morris 69’), Hill.
Subs not used: Coleman (GK), J.Morris, Rydel.
Sunderland XI: Burge (GK), McLaughlin, Power, Wyke, O’Brien (Maguire 78’), Gooch (Winchester 71’), O’Nien, Sanderson, Leadbitter, McFadzean, McGeady (Jones 68’).
Subs not used: Matthews (GK), Diamond, Vokins, Younger.