Sunderland 2-0 Fleetwood: Second half O'Brien and Power goals seal crucial win in promotion chase
(Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images )

Former Sunderland manager Simon Grayson's Fleetwood side fell to defeat in his first return to the Stadium of Light since being sacked. 

The former Leeds United & Huddersfield Town manager took the job after Sunderland's relegation from the Premier League but his reign was short lived being sacked in October 2017. 

It's a much changed Sunderland now under Lee Johnson. But some things remain the same and it was a familiar foe, Aiden McGeady, who Grayson brought to Sunderland after a loan spell at Preston North End, that did the damage hanging up a cross that Aiden O'Brien headed beyond Alex Cairns in a rare moment of quality.

Max Power added a second late on to put gloss on the scoreline and end Sunderlands voodoo against the cod army. 

Story of the game

It was a slow start to the game by both sides with neither team creating a chance of note until the seventh minute. 

It was the visitors firing a warning shot of their threat. A cross field ball found Kyle Vassell who on the stretch hooked it towards Harvey Saunders steaming into the box but he couldn't connect from two yards out. 

Sunderland were struggling to get their foot on the ball and didn't get started in the first ten minutes being forced to go long, playing into Fleetwood's hands. 

Fleetwood were happy to sit in and give Sunderland the ball in front of them. Aiden McGeady and Lyndon Gooch were having to drop deep to get touches of the ball as Fleetwood continued to look to play on the break with limited success. 

When McGeady did pick up the ball just outside the box he was able to fashion a chance. Fleetwood defenders were clearly aware of his threat, backing off Sunderland's number twenty eight he did his trademark move shifting it onto his left and unleashed a fierce effort which deflected out for a corner. 

Sunderland were encouraged by this. Fleetwood's out ball towards Rossiter was intercepted and Sunderland broke. The ball ended up with McGeady on Sunderland's left. He threw in a cross which Charlie Wyke contested with Alex Cairns in the Fleetwood goal, it went over them falling to Aiden O'Brien but he couldn't sort his feet out to get a shot away as the game passed the twenty minute mark with Sunderland dominating possesion. 

Their next effort after twenty four minutes was the best opening. It came from long range specialist Max Power. McGeady unable to advance found Sunderland's captain in space. He took a touch to set himself and hit a low shot which just went past Cairns' left hand post.     

Fleetwood were seeing less of the ball but still looked a threat when given the opportunity. The majority of their play was coming from set pieces without creating a chance. Dion Sanderson had to make a clearance to deny Vassell a one on one but that was all they had to show within the opening thirty minutes. 

Sunderland were also struggling to create clear cut chances. Charlie Wyke nearly had an opening but McGeady's ball just had too much pace and Fleetwood cleared. 

When Sunderland picked up the pace they were looking dangerous but just couldn't get their best players into the game with both Wyke and McGeady being well marshalled by the defence.

A lot of their passing was square and their play was pedestrian allowing Fleetwood to get back behind the ball before they could build up momentum.

Lee Johnson was getting animated on the touchline barking orders at his players. It paid dividends as they forced the first save of the game from Cairns.

Gooch carried the ball towards the left hand side of the box. He found McGeady just outside, again he shifted onto his left finding half a yard and firing towards goal but it was an easy enough save for the Fleetwood keeper and they quickly cleared it to safety.  

A dire first half ended and it was hoped that the second would be much more eventful. Sunderland needed to inject pace into their play and Fleetwood needed to compete more as for spells of the first half they were passengers in the contest. 

It was another fairly slow start to the half by Sunderland and it took five minutes before they even got close to Fleetwood's area. 

Wyke was fouled twenty five yards out but McGeady's free kick flew far over the bar. They continued to push forward forcing a good save from Cairns. A long ball up to Wyke was held up well he layed off Conor McLaughlin but on his left foot he could only fire straight at Cairns who held well. 

They then created their most clear cut chance of the game after fifty six minutes. McGeady sliding a ball through to Gooch in the box. He looked to poke the ball under Cairns but the keeper did well to get a hand to it and palm it away. 

They finally picked up the pace with their passing and it paid off. A good spell ended with McGeady on the left. He hung up an inviting ball into the box, Aiden O'Brien just wanted it more than the Fleetwood defender and headed down beyond Cairn to give Sunderland a crucial lead. 

From there Sunderland could afford to relax with Fleetwood continuing to offer little threat despite being behind. 

They went close on a few occasions. First substitute Jordan Jones went close with a header. Max Power picked him out at the far post but his header was tame and Cairns saved easily. 

Grant Leadbitter then tried to catch out Fleetwoods keeper Cairns from distance but just misjudged his effort and it flew just past the post. 

Jones went close again cutting inside off the left on the edge of the idea and tried his luck at the near post but Cairns got down well. 

Sunderland did double their lead after eighty two minutes. A deep corner by Chris Maguire found Max Power coming in at the back post. He stooped low and kept his effort on target beyond Cairns to score against Fleetwood for the second consecutive season at the Stadium of Light. 

Man of the match - Max Power

It was a difficult one to pick, nobody really covered themselves in glory and nobody stood out. Alex Cairns made a number of saves in the Fleetwood goal but most of them were straightforward. 

Sunderland controlled midfield and that was thanks to Max Power. He went about his buisness well, passing was accurate and he popped up with a goal to seal the win for his side. 

He leads by example and should he lead Sunderland to promotion, would go down in Sunderland history.