Sunderland had to respond to the pressure put on by Portsmouth and Barnsley

Jack Ross explained it was crucial his Sunderland responded well to the good work of Pompey and Barnsley as the League One promotion race continued to heat up on Good Friday.

Saturday, 20th April 2019, 5:04 pm
Sunderland boss Jack Ross. Picture: Joe Pepler

The manager and his players had seen what their rivals had done earlier but they managed to keep their cool and earn the 2-0 win against Doncaster.

It kept them ahead of Pompey on goal difference with Kenny Jackett’s men beating Burton to continue their fantastic form, while Barnsley, who beat Shrewsbury 2-1, are two points ahead in second having played a game more.

Ross praised his team for their brave approach after some disappointing results recently.

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He told the Sunderland Echo: ‘We were aware of the results before the game, and the importance of winning. You should always reflect, how you approach the games and what you can do better.

‘We had to be slightly brave in how we approached the game, came off the game a bit more and allowed the opposition more possession.

‘Our discipline was really good, it has been a little learning experience but it is not easy to do that here, the expectation that comes with the size of the crowd, you always have to be on the front foot so the early goal helped the way we wanted to play.’

Lewis Morgan gave Sunderland the perfect start when he fired them into an early lead from 15 yards after Charlie Wyke headed Aiden McGeady's cross into his path.

And Wyke tapped in a simple second from close range when defender Jimmy Dunne beat Rovers keeper Marco Marosi to Max Power's cross and flicked the ball goalwards.

Danny Andrew hit the post with a free-kick with the final kick of the first half as Doncaster threatened.

But Sunderland, who have not lost in the league after scoring first this season, continued to have the better of the game after the break and went close to extending their lead.

Bryan Oviedo hit the post with a low drive after bursting forward from left-back, while Marosi pushed away shots from Wyke and substitute Will Grigg.

Doncaster appealed in vain for a penalty when Andy Butler appeared to be wrestled to the ground by Dunne but Sunderland saw the game out in relative comfort.

Sunderland meet Pompey on April 27 in a match that promises to be another immense battle with the Blues looking to add more pain on their rivals after winning the Checkatrade Trophy final at Wembley.

Pompey host Coventry on Easter Monday in the early match (12.30pm) while at 3pm Sunderland travel to Peterborough and Barnsley go to Plymouth.