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Sunderland Weekly Round-Up: Black Cats Return to League One Promotion Push

The latest edition of the Sunderland weekly round-up looks back as the Black Cats returned to league action following their Wembley win.
Black Cats return

Following the euphoria of the Wembley win in the EFL Trophy, Sunderland were quickly back in action as two games came soon after the memorable win at the home of football. The past week saw the Black Cats return to League One looks as Lee Johnson‘s side attempted to gain ground on the automatic promotion places. We also look at the latest injury news, Sunderland Ladies, the U23’s and an unsung hero in goalkeeper Lee Burge.

Black Cats Return to League Action Following Wembley Win

Accrington Stanley: Debut Goal Helps Seal Three Points

A mere 72 hours following their victory at Wembley in the EFL Cup final, Sunderland travelled to Accrington Stanley as they quickly turned their attentions back to League One. Another victory would continue their impressive recent form but more importantly gain ground on the all-important automatic promotion places.

A goalless first half had some wondering if it was going to be one of those evenings; however, at half-time Lee Johnson introduced new signing Ross Stewart for his debut. The striker signed in January but has been out of action through injury. The big striker immediately began causing Stanley problems and on 62 minutes got his reward as his fine looping header found the back of the net.

With five minutes remaining, main man Charlie Wyke continued his rich vein of form in front of goal to seal the win. Wyke is currently having the best season of his career. His goal at Accrington made it 27 goals so far for the season.

Nothing Lost or Gained as The Black Cats Return to the Stadium of Light

Back at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland faced fellow promotion hopefuls Lincoln City. Johnson’s men beat the Imps 4-0 in December but there would be no repeat. The Black Cats took the lead through full-back Callum McFadzean before half-time but the visitors levelled midway through the second period.

Prior to the game, Sunderland sat in third place in the table with Peterborough United and Hull City above them. With those both drawing, it was a case of nothing gained on the top two but also nothing lost. This point against a fellow promotion chaser could yet prove vital in the closing stages of the season.

Lee Burge: Unsung Hero

Goalkeeper Lee Burge has become an unsung hero of late for Sunderland. Inconsistent form led to the former Coventry City shot-stopper being dropped for the away fixture at Shrewsbury Town in early February. Defeat in that game led to Johnson quickly restoring Burge and ever since, his form has been exceptional.

Seven clean sheets and numerous important saves in his 11 games back have seen Sunderland move up the table and win the EFL Cup. Johnson has been delighted with his keeper of late. Following the Lincoln game, he said: “Since that Shrewsbury game, when we felt it was the right time to leave him out, he came back in very quickly, and since then I think he’s been top drawer.

“As a goalkeeper, it’s really important that your defence trusts you, and I think at the moment, the communication is good and they trust him to make the big saves. Today, he’s had to make a couple of very good ones.”

Injury Update: Denver Hume Closing in on Return

Full-back Denver Hume returned to training last week following a lengthy layoff due to a hamstring injury. He has not featured since December 5th and his return in the coming weeks will be a boost to the side.

Defenders Bailey Wright and Tom Flanagan are still expected to be out for several weeks, while Jordan Jones, who has missed the last three games and is also ruled out of Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifiers, is expected to be back in training within the next week.

Forward Aiden O’Brien, who has also missed the last three games, is expected to be the first player to return to training of those currently out of action.

Ladies Announcement

Sunderland Ladies were given bad news last week when it was announced that tiers three to six of the women’s game would be declared null and void. No promotion or relegation will happen in these leagues this season. The lady Black Cats are currently playing in the third tier of the women’s game in England.

A statement from Sunderland ladies on read: “SAFC Ladies would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the supporters around the world who have been truly outstanding throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will strive to keep fans in the loop with further news and information about the finalised decision as we receive it.”

U23’s Latest: Young Black Cats Return With Three Points

Sunderland’s U23 side earned a huge win away at Crystal Palace. Their 2-1 victory has lifted them above rivals Newcastle United as they battle to avoid ending the season bottom of the table. Sunderland looked to be heading for defeat as they fell behind in the second half and then conceded a penalty. However, the penalty was saved and the Black Cats soon equalised. With the game heading for a draw, Sunderland scored in the fourth minute of added-on time to claim what could prove to be a priceless victory.


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