Sunderland kicked off the new League One season with a last gasp victory over Charlton Athletic at the Stadium of Light. Academy graduates Josh Maja and Lyndon Gooch found the back of the net to send 30,000 Sunderland fans home very happy.
The lunchtime kick off didn’t start as well as it finished for the home side. Just ten minutes in, Karl Ahearne-Grant broke clear of the Sunderland backline and his run into the box was brought to an abrupt end by one of the home sides five debutants. Chris Maguires challenge created an easy decision for referee John Brooks to make. Lyle Taylor made no mistake from the spot as he found the top right corner of Jon McLaughlin’s goal. 1-0 to the visitors.
The hosts continued to make a slow start but with half of the starting eleven being new signings it was always going to take some time for things to settle into place. Darren Pratley came close to doubling the visitors lead from distance, however his dipping effort was well saved by McLaughlin.
The first bright moment for the hosts was provided by a combination of the two new centre backs signed by Jack Ross over the summer. Glen Loovens steered a header towards the back post and Alim Ozturk wasn’t too far away from getting on the end of it. promising play from perhaps the two unlikeliest men in red and white. Moments later a George Honeyman shot/pass found its way to Josh Maja in the box, his effort was smuggled to safety by Charlton keeper Dillon Phillips.
HT: Sunderland 0-1 Charlton
The second half brought about a change in intensity from Sunderland and just past the hour mark they had their reward. Maja did well to control the ball and turn under pressure before hitting a strike in past Phillips, the Charlton keeper appearing to have failed to spot the ball until the last second. The turnaround was well and truly on.
Phillips was much more alert to Chris Maguires free kick, making a smart save to keep the scores level. By this point, the screw was being turned and only one side looked like finding the crucial second goal.
It looked as though this curtain raiser was going to finish all square, then up stepped Lyndon Gooch. In the sixth minute of injury time substitute Bryan Oviedo floated in a deep cross and Gooch was there in the right place at the back post to head across Phillips and into the back of the net. It wasn’t a great performance, but it was the best possible start to a new era at the Stadium of Light. Next up, a tricky looking trip to Luton Town on Saturday.
FT: Sunderland 2-1 Charlton