George Honeyman was Sunderland’s hero as they claimed a 1-0 win over Bury at Gigg Lane on Thursday evening in the Carabao Cup.
It was the Sky Bet Championship side who started the better as Gabonese midfielder Didier N’Dong played in Lewis Grabben, but he was tackled by Tom Aldred before he could get his effort away on goal.
In a first half that lacked creativity, it was Simon Grayson’s side who had the best chance of it as Aiden McGeady saw his stinging drive well kept out by Bury keeper Joe Murphy on 15 minutes.
However, Lee Clark’s side could have gone ahead minutes later as Nicky Ajose danced around the Black Cats defence before he saw his effort well blocked by John O’Shea.
Sunderland was hoping to build on Friday’s impressive performance against Derby County and if it weren’t for Murphy would have been ahead on 32 minutes as he made a low save to deny a Wahbi Khazri effort from point blank range.
As half time approached Grayson’s side should have taken the lead when Darren Gibson played in Grabben, but he thumped his effort over the bar.
Bury had the final chance of note before the break as Shakers debutant Harry Bunn linked up with Craig Jones before he lashed his effort wide.
It was the Black Cats who started the second half on top as McGeady picked out Honeyman, but his header was plucked out of the air by Murphy.
It was the turn of the Irish winger to try his luck moments later as McGeady tied the Bury defence in knots before firing just wide of goal.
Murphy then came to the Shakers rescue on 60 minutes as former Bury striker James Vaughan saw his effort parried away from goal after a defence splitting Khazri pass.
It was the turn of Vaughan to create the next clear cut chance as he linked up with Gibson before his shot was saved down low by the impressive Murphy.
However, the deadlock was broken a minute later as Honeyman was played in by N’Dong after some fantastic Sunderland movement before he dinked the ball over the onrushing Murphy to the delight of the travelling support.
Jason Steele in the Sunderland goal had to be alert on 75 minutes to deny a certain Bury leveller as Bunn lashed a shot goalwards before the former Blackburn Rovers keeper got down to push the ball away from danger.
Lee Clark’s side were starting to put pressure on the Black Cats and should have been level on 78 minutes as Jermaine Beckford fired over the bar from close range after a low Andrew Tutte cross.
Grayson’s side should have been further ahead with five minutes to go as Vaughan was played through by N’Dong, but his effort sailed wide of goal.
Two minutes later Beckford nearly levelled as Ajose crossed for the former Leeds striker but he could only direct his header wide of goal when he should have done better.
The final chance of note fell to Sunderland on 88 minutes when some neat play by the visitors saw Honeyman cross for N’Dong but he volleyed over the bar from close range, but this was enough to set up a round two clash with Carlisle United.