Sunderland had to come from two goals behind to salvage a point against Accrington Stanley at the SOL on Friday evening as Jack Ross’ side poor form continued. Accrington Stanley went ahead midway through the first half through a Billy Kee penalty after a poor challenge from Jack Baldwin was penalised before Paul Smyth capitalised on more woeful defending to double the visitors lead at the start of the second half. The introduction of Chris Maguire from the bench sparked a fight back with goals from George Honeyman and Aiden McGeady coming in the space of ten minutes but Sunderland had to settle for their fourteenth draw of the season as they couldn’t find a winner.
Although Sunderland’s recent form can be best described as indifferent for a side with promotion aspirations the form of visitors Accrington Stanley is the worst in the league over the last six games. Accrington have drew two and lost four of there last six and their failure to find the goal in these past six games is the longest goalless run in the top four tiers in England this season.
Ross revealed in his pre match press conference that Duncan Watmore wouldn’t feature in the game as his return from two serious knee injuries is treat cautiously although the gaffer didn’t have any other fresh injury concerns. In fact Ross hoped to have Lee Cattermole and Bryan Oviedo available again after injury while Max Power was available after missing the game on Tuesday as his Mrs was giving birth. Ross made one s to the side that drew against Blackpool with Charlie Wyke replacing Duncan Watmore.
Before kick off there was a moments applause for World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks who passed away earlier this week. The lads got the game underway kicking towards the Roker End, but it was the visitors who had the first chance after a mistake from Dunne saw Stanley win a corner. It was swung in and their centre half got up highest unchallenged, but he headed over. Sunderland did respond quickly after Wyke played in McGeady down the left with the winger cutting inside but his powerful effort sailed over the bar.
After twelve minutes we forged a good opportunity after a nice bit of trickery and then clever ball down the left by McGeady set James away. The left back played a low cross into Grigg who was unmarked in the box but he failed to find the target with a poor side footed effort. McGeady and James combined again soon after with James this time cross for Wyke but his header was gathered comfortably by the keeper. On twenty minutes Grigg had another sight of goal after O'Nien's long throw was flicked on by Wyke but he volleyed wide under pressure.
On the half hour the visitors were awarded a penalty after some woeful Sunderland defending ended with Jack Baldwin making a stupid tackle and hacking down Smyth for a stone wall penalty. Billy Kee converted it, making no mistake firing into the bottom right hand corner past McLaughlin even though the Scot did dive the right way. A couple of minutes later Jack Baldwin made a late challenge hard challenge on Kee on the half way line and was lucky to only receive a yellow card.
The goal breathed confidence into the visitors and they started knocking the ball about running rings round Sunderland. Accrington played their way into the box down the left-hand side and Sunderland were fortunate that Barlaser fired wide. On the stroke of half time Sunderland got some respite when Gooch forced a corner and though Dunne got his head onto Leadbitter's corner there was no power on it and the keeper grasped it easily.
When the ref blew to end the half there were loud boos for the performance from the Sunderland crowd.
Neither side made any changes at the break with Ross opting to give the players the opportunity to turn the game around. The visitors forced an early corner but Sunderland managed to clear away the danger after Dunne lost the initial header.
Sunderland wasted a glorious chance to draw level five minutes into the second half when O'Nien teed up Wyke. The stand in right back crossed to the back post but with the goal gaping the outstretched Wyke could only stab the ball wide.
The miss was soon punished as Accrington doubled their lead with Sunderland again guilty of sloppy defending. The ball was swung in from the right and Paul Smyth nodded past McLaughlin with a easy header. Prior to the goal Chris Maguire was stripped ready to come on and he did before the restart replacing Charlie Wyke.
The lads grabbed a goal back quickly through George Honeyman with Maguire making an immediate impact creating the goal with a cross to the back post for Grigg. Grigg did well to lay the ball into the path of Honeyman who bundled the ball into the back of the net. The goal lifted Sunderland and the crowd with Maguire seeing a lot if the ball and looking dangerous.
The introduction of Maguire changed the game as Sunderland soon drew level through Aiden McGeady but again Maguire was the architect. He made a good run into the box and was found by McGeady in a decent position but instead of shooting from an angle he passed back to McGeady who crisply rolled the ball into the back of the net. Sunderland’s tails were up and we won a free kick on the edge of the box but Maguire’s shot was cleared. Soon after Grigg had another chance but his effort was diverted wide for a corner which was cleared.
With twenty minutes to play Accrington reminded Sunderland they were still a threat when a cross found Kee in the box but he headed into McLaughlin’s hands. At the other end Maguire tried his luck from long range after a decent run but his shot dipped over.
With fifteen minutes to go Ross made his second change of the game replacing Gooch with Morgan as the lads went looking for a winner. Five minutes later he was followed onto the pitch by Max Power who replaced Grant Leadbitter. The visitors made a few changes of their own as they looked to kill the momentum of Sunderland and run the clock down at any opportunity.
Lewis Morgan went close as the clock ran down after a great bit of skill dummying the ball saw him leave his marker for dead. The on-loan winger drove towards goal and tried to find the top corner but his right footed effort from the edge of the box was just off target. Max Power then went close after a patient move from Sunderland ended with the midfielder’s powerful low drive with the keeper parrying away to safety.
There was five minutes added time after all the subs and time-wasting shenanigans but just prior to this Sunderland thought they had scored but O'Nien’s effort following Power's volley was ruled out for offside. We forced a corner in injury time which was taken short before being drove into the box by McGeady which caused a burn it a scramble which Accrington managed to clear.
We couldn’t muster a winner and although there were less boos at the full-time whistle than at half time a fifteen-minute spell can’t mask what was another poor performance and result.
Final Score: Sunderland 2 Accrington Stanley 2
ALS Man of the Match: Chris Maguire