Sign up to the Irish FA Newsletter today

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news from the Irish FA including ticket updates, match information, competitions, articles and much more.
Thank you

Monday 09 Mar 2020
BATW | Lafferty scores twice for the Black Cats

Striker Kyle Lafferty celebrated his first start in a Sunderland shirt by scoring twice as the Black Cats were held to a 2-2 draw by Gillingham at the Stadium of Light at the weekend. 

Despite his brace, the 32-year-old Fermanagh forward, who had made nine substitute appearances for the League One side since his arrival in January, was naturally disappointed with the final result. 

“Getting two goals on my full debut is nice for me, but at the end of the day it’s about the team,” he said. “To drop points the way we did is disappointing, but we’ve got two very important games away from home so we’ll focus on them.

“I’ve been biding my time for six or seven weeks now,” added Lafferty, “I think Charlie (Wyke) has done superbly well, scored goals, his link-up play and everything else – I’ve been impressed with him myself.

“But he’s injured, so that’s given me the nod today and two goals is a good start.

“At the end of the day, dropping points is more important and that takes the shine off it a bit.”

Meanwhile, in the Scottish Premiership, Conor Washington made it two goals in two games when prodded home an equaliser for struggling Hearts as they drew 1-1 at home to Stephen Robinson’s Motherwell. 

“It’s nice to be playing up top and getting goals,” declared Washington. “I’m starting to feel more comfortable in my own body again. 

“It was tough mentally coming back from my first-ever injury but I feel really good now.

“Hopefully that’s showing on the pitch “I just like running around, to be honest. The goals help; if I contribute to the team performing well, all the better.”

Also among the goals over the weekend was Paddy McNair who clocked up his fifth of the campaign to secure a vital 1-0 victory over Charlton Athletic and move Middlesbrough out of the bottom three in the Championship. 

Speaking after the victory at the Valley, McNair said: “It’s massive to be out of the bottom three. No player likes being in there, especially at this stage of the season.

“We just need to keep our heads up and keep going now,” he added. “There are nine games left in the season, and I think we probably need to win four or five to make sure we’re definitely safe.”

In League One, midfielder Matty Lund bagged his first goal since re-joining Rochdale as they surprisingly defeated promotion-chasing Rotherham United 3-1 at Spotland. 

On-loan winger Rory Holden found the net for League Two Walsall who went on to record a 3-1 home success against Exeter City while former Northern Ireland under-21 International Dale Gorman scored the only goal of the game as Newport County overcame Morecambe 1-0 at Rodney Parade. 

In the National League current under-21 defender Lewis Thompson made his debut for AFC Fylde in their goalless draw with Solihull Moors.

The 20-year-old left-back joined the Lancashire outfit on-loan from Blackburn Rovers last week until the end of the season. 

With the Northern Ireland squad being announced tomorrow (Tuesday) for the forthcoming Euro Play-Off semi-final with Bosnia a number of the potential panel got vital game time under their belts. 

Winger Jordan Jones played the final 13 minutes of the Rangers victory at Ross County yesterday while Shane Ferguson popped up with an assist as he started his first Millwall game since the beginning of February.

Elsewhere, Jordan Thompson played the full ninety minutes of Stoke City’s 5-1 demolishing of Hull City as did Tigers striker Josh Magennis.