Sunderland drew for the thirteenth time this season after coming from behind to draw 1 – 1 against Blackpool at the SOL on Tuesday evening. The visitors had taken a deserved lead midway through the first half thanks to a long range strike from Armand Gnanduillet. Sunderland improved slightly in the second half and did level after Jack Baldwin headed a Grant Leadbitter corner in but the disappointing result leaves Sunderland fourth in the league.
After succumbing to a late equaliser at Oxford on Saturday Jack Ross made three changes to his side as Sunderland looked to make up ground in the hunt for the automatic promotion places. In came Luke O'Nien, Duncan Watmore and Lynden Gooch at the expense of Adam Matthews, Max Power and Lewis Morgan. Will Grigg made his home debut whilst there was also a return on the bench for Chris Maguire who has been missing from the match day squad in recent weeks.
Sunderland started pretty well and forced an early corner after Watmore broke into the box and saw a shot blocked. It was well cleared but then Watmore was again lively on the right skipping past his man and whipping a cross through the six yard area which Grigg couldn’t connect with. Blackpool had an effort dragged wide by Delfouneso after the midfielder had skipped by some weak challenges.
The game and atmosphere was pretty flat with Sunderland failing to create much though a long range shot from Jimmy Dunne midway through the first half did get a few off their seat although judging by the reaction of the Blackpool keeper it was well wide. On the half hour the game sprung into life a bit with both sides going close.
First the visitors forced a corner which was swung deep into the box and nodded towards the bottom corner with McLaughlin punching the ball clear. Sunderland then broke quickly through Watmore who squared the ball to Grigg whose left foot shot was parried by the keeper.
The visitors then took the lead through a long range strike by Gnanduillet who capitalised on sloppy defending from Baldwin. Gnanduillet lashed the ball past McLaughlin into the bottom corner with the keeper having no chance. We responded well and went straight back on the attack and had a shout for a penalty waved away after O'Nien appeared to be fouled but the ref pointed for a goal kick. Moments later McGeady struck the outside of the post from a free kick as the lads were left cursing their luck.
Five minutes before half time he visitors went close again from another corner which was delivered to the back post but nodded just wide. Right before the break the visitors forced McLaughlin into another save with a long range volley meaning the lads had it all to do in the second half.
Neither side made any changes at the break but it was Blackpool who started the better and having a shout for a penalty before the goal scorer Gnanduillet rode about three half hearted Sunderland challenges then dragged a shot wide of the post. This prompted Jack Ross to make his first change of the game with Charlie Wyke replacing Lynden Gooch.
Sunderland managed a decent effort ten minutes later after Wyke knocked the ball to Grigg who in turn found Watmore on the angle of the box. Watmore drilled a low shot goalwards which flashed across the face of the goal.
With half an hour remaining Ross made his second change with Lewis Morgan replacing Aiden McGeady. We had a great chance to equalise on 65 minutes when a ball over the top found Grigg clean through on goal. After Grigg rounded the keeper everyone waited for the net to ripple but unfortunately Grigg only found the side netting with his shot.
Sunderland forced a corner with seventeen minutes to go and drew level through Jack Baldwin’s header with Leadbitter getting the assist. The equaliser lifted the crowd after the visitors had been sitting deep frustrating Sunderland and dealing comfortably with our attempts to play through them.
Ross made a final change with ten minutes to play as Flanagan replaced the presumably injured James. We forced a free kick after Morgan was hacked down 25 yards from goal and Leadbitter curled a shot goalwards but it dropped just over the bar. Soon after a neat bit of play involving Watmore and Grigg almost saw Watmore get a sight of goal but the keeper rushed out to smother the danger.
The visitors used every trick in the book trying to run down the clock as Ross’ side went in search of a winner. Wyke had a header saved after he flicked Morgan's cross goalwards before the fourth official signalled six minutes added time. It was Blackpool though who mustered the best effort in injury time after a corner was headed wide by Gnanduillet with Sunderland drawing yet again.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 Blackpool 1
ALS Man of the Match: Duncan Watmore