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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Black Cats beat Preston to start new year in style

Black Cats beat Preston to start new year in style


Nazariy Rusyn pokes home his first Sunderland goal from Jack Clarke’s low cross to make it 2-0 just before the break

Sunderland returned to the top six of the Championship, for at least a few hours, with a comfortable home victory over Preston.

The influential Alex Pritchard returned to the side and gave the hosts an early lead with his first goal of the season – a superb swerving strike from distance.

After six games on the bench, Ukrainian striker Nazariy Rusyn was also recalled to the starting line-up and netted his first for the club just before the break to ensure boss Michael Beale’s first home win in charge of the Black Cats.

After a fourth defeat in five, Preston could find themselves in the bottom half by this evening, while Hull could overhaul Sunderland if they beat Sheffield Wednesday in the 17:15 GMT kick-off.

Beale made three changes after the 1-1 draw at Rotherham on Friday, with Aji Alese joining Rusyn and Pritchard in the side, Jenson Seelt and Adil Aouchiche dropping to the bench and Patrick Roberts out because of injury.

North End boss Ryan Lowe also made three changes following their 1-0 defeat by Sheffield Wednesday, as Jordan Storey, Mads Frokjaer and Ched Evans came in for Milutin Osmajic, Jack Whatmough and Duane Holmes.

The start to the first match of 2024 was as bright as the fireworks around the country just over 12 hours earlier as Jack Clarke curled narrowly past the far post inside two minutes, and home keeper Anthony Patterson produced a flying save to deny Ben Whiteman’s snap-shot at the other end.

Sunderland’s Pierre Ekwah slashed wide from the edge of the box but the deadlock was broken after 10 minutes when Pritchard found space to smash in a swerving 25-yard blockbuster, his first goal since netting at Deepdale on the final day of last season and Sunderland’s first at home against Preston since 2004.

Clarke saw a curler saved by Preston keeper Freddie Woodman, who also blocked another effort from Pritchard, while Frokjaer fizzed a shot over the Sunderland bar just before the half hour.

Pritchard sliced an angled drive past the upright but the crucial second arrived just before the break when Clarke broke from his own half, rode a heavy challenge and made the most of a good advantage from the referee to burst down the left and cross low for Rusyn to dart across the defender and poke home his first Black Cats goal on his 10th appearance.

Brad Potts saw a half-volley charged down by Alese, making his first appearance of the season after a thigh injury, after the break and Patterson saved Ali McCann’s low effort down the middle soon after as Preston sought a reply.

After a second period short on chances, Potts blazed over from an angle in the closing stages as Preston went goalless for the second successive match.

Line-ups

Sunderland

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Patterson
  • 32Hume
  • 13O’Nien
  • 5Ballard
  • 42AleseSubstituted forPembéléat 70′minutes
  • 39Ekwah
  • 24Neil
  • 21PritchardSubstituted forSeeltat 85′minutes
  • 7BellinghamSubstituted forMayendaat 85′minutes
  • 20Clarke
  • 15RusynSubstituted forBaat 76′minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Pembélé
  • 11Burstow
  • 12Mayenda
  • 17Ba
  • 22Aouchiche
  • 23Seelt
  • 25Triantis
  • 30Bishop
  • 31Rigg

Preston

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 1Woodman
  • 44Potts
  • 14Storey
  • 6LindsayBooked at 39mins
  • 16Hughes
  • 13McCannSubstituted forKeaneat 67′minutes
  • 8Browne
  • 4Whiteman
  • 10Frökjaer-JensenSubstituted forRiisat 80′minutes
  • 23Millar
  • 9EvansSubstituted forOsmajicat 67′minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Cunningham
  • 7Keane
  • 18Ledson
  • 19Riis
  • 20Woodburn
  • 21Cornell
  • 25Holmes
  • 28Osmajic
  • 33Best

Referee:
Oliver Langford

Attendance:
42,714

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