PHIL PARKINSON was quick to praise goalscorer Lynden Gooch as Sunderland defeated Oxford at the Kassam.

The Californian came off the bench and netted a superb solo effort to confirm all three points after Luke O’Nien had opened the scoring.

Gooch last started a League One game at home to Gillingham in March, though he featured in the Aston Villa demolition in the EFL Trophy.

While all focus will be on the excellent skill shown by the 24-year old, manager Parkinson felt the winger reacted well to remaining a substitute.

He said: “I don’t think there will be many better goals than that scored this weekend. Goochy has trained really well this week. It was very hard for me not to put him in the team but I just wanted to get the balance of the side right.

“He was disappointed but he took it the right way. There’s going to be other players who will get left out in this long season, but you’ve got to accept the decision and you’ve got to come on the pitch and let your football do the talking.”

Some eyebrows were raised before the game when Grant Leadbitter replaced the suspended George Dobson. Parkinson said the decision was a tactical one.

He added: “Granty is more suited to that role, that’s his position. I thought he was very good today. He played with a lot of nous, he’s come back with great fitness levels, he’s in a good place mentally and physically right now. He’s desperate to play. As much as whether you’re 18 or 34 you deserve an opportunity and I thought he took it.”

Parkinson was also keen to praise substitute Charlie Wyke, defender Bailey Wright and forward Danny Graham – who was making his first start since returning.

He said “It was not just the goal, Goochy and Charlie came on and gave us a great lift. I was pleased for Charlie, I thought he was excellent when he came on – he won every header and ran the channels. That’s what you need – he gave us a lift at the right time.

“Bailey was great, I thought the back three were very good. Oxford surprised us a bit, with the conditions they were a bit more direct than they normally are. Danny played with a lot of nous, he drew a foul on the edge of the box and backed into defenders. He’s a good platform, nothing really dropped for him. It was always going to be tough because he’s only had 30 minutes as sub.”

It was a vastly different atmosphere at the Kassam from the previous trip in February for Sunderland. With crowds absent, except for a van of Gateshead-based fans in the vast car park behind the goal, it was an almost surreal backdrop.

Sunderland opened the scoring two minutes in the second half. O’Nien picked up a ball from a full-stretched Chris Maguire in the area, after he collected from Aiden O’Brien, and slotted his shot past the outstretched Simon Eastwood.

A much-needed second strike came with nine minutes remaining. Gooch took the ball from just inside the opposition half, was able to hold off no less than three defenders, then picked his spot to drive home past Eastwood – giving him the goal his solo effort deserved.

The goal effectively killed off the game, and Sunderland were able to collect both their first win of the season, and a clean sheet as well.