Sky Bet Championship
Sunderland 0-2 Preston North End
Maguire 50 Robinson 63
Play-off hopefuls Preston North End got back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over strugglers Sunderland in the Championship, who are now nine games without a win.
In-form Sean Maguire scored his fifth goal in five games early in the first half, and Callum Robinson got the winner thirteen minutes later.
Sunderland made three changes to their side with Lee Camp coming in for suspended keeper Jason Steele, and Jake Clarke-Salter and Josh Maja came in for Jonny Williams and Ashley Fletcher.
Preston also made three changes with keeper Chris Maxwell, Josh Earl and Paul Gallagher coming in for Declan Rudd, Greg Cunningham and Daniel Johnson.
It was an uneventful start to the game, and the first real chance came 16 minutes in when Joel Asoro was one-on-one but his weak effort was saved by Maxwell.
Up the other end just moments later, Tom Barkhuizen found himself one-on-one with Camp but the keeper just beat him to it and cleared away.
North End came close just four minutes from half time when Paul Huntington headed just over on the end of Gallagher’s corner.
The visitors made a great start to the second half and came very close three minutes in when Earl put in a good ball to Robinson but the winger’s effort went just wide.
Two minutes later, Preston took the lead when Maguire met a brilliant free kick into the box with a diving header that beat Camp in the Sunderland goal.
Maguire almost had a second moments later when he rounded keeper Camp but his effort was cleared off the line by Bryan Oviedo.
Sunderland were reduced to ten men in the 60th minute when Clarke-Salter was sent off for his second bookable defence just weeks after being sent off against Middlesbrough.
Preston doubled their lead three minutes later when Robinson headed home from close range on the end of Barkhuizen’s excellent cross.
Alex Neil’s side made it look easy after that, after many Sunderland fans left the ground in disgust, and the game almost looked like a pre-season friendly.
Sunderland did come close in the 76th minute when substitute Kazenga LuaLua’s free kick was tipped over by Maxwell.
North End almost got a third in the 89th minute when substitute Daniel Johnson rounded Camp but his effort was cleared off the line by Oviedo.
The result means Sunderland remain bottom of the Championship five points below the drop zone while Preston move up to 8th just two points off the play-offs.
Sunderland: Camp, Matthews, Clarke-Salter, O’Shea (c), Kone, Oviedo, Cattermole, Ejaria (McNair 76), Honeyman (LuaLua 69), Asoro, Maja (Fletcher 64).
Booked and sent off: Clarke-Salter
Subs not used: Stryjek, McManaman, McGeady, Robson.
Preston North End: Maxwell, Fisher, Huntington, Davies, Earl, Gallagher (Johnson 72), Pearson, Barkhuizen (Bodin 86), Browne, Robinson (Harrop 86), Maguire.
Subs not used: Hudson, Clarke, Woods, Moult.