Despite showing great character to come back from 2-0, Sunderland were only able to gain a point on their promotion rivals in Accrington’s biggest ever game. George Honeyman and Aiden McGeady spared the lads’ blushes, as yet another disappointing performance finished in a draw. This means that Sunderland are now third, thanks to a superior goal difference to Portsmouth.
In the first five minutes, Charlie Wyke made an impact in his return to the starting XI, as he released Aiden McGeady who curled his effort just past the post. Will Grigg was then presented with another golden opportunity to open his account, however he squandered this chance to the dismay of supporters, desperate to sing a certain song. From a throw-in, Wyke used his physical presence to flick the ball onto Grigg, who again fluffed his lines at an angle where it looked easier to score.
Sloppy play from the lads led to Accrington having a bit more possession, but not really doing anything with it: But then disaster struck. Smyth found his way into the box, when Baldwin put a reckless tackle in and gave away a penalty on the half hour mark. Billy Kee buried the penalty expertly.
Immediately after the second half kicked off, Charlie Wyke couldn’t quite get his sliding effort on target after some good play by O’Nien and Gooch. Moments later, Sunderland were made to rue that miss with Accrington breaking through and doubling their lead. Groans could be heard in the stadium as everyone thought it was game over. A brilliant tactical substitution from Jack Ross payed off, as Wyke was replaced by Chris Maguire, who completely turned the game on its head.
Within minutes, we had clawed back a goal, with Grigg sending Maguire’s cross back across the goal, for captain Honeyman to slot home. The King was involved heavily for the equaliser too, putting it on a plate for Aiden McGeady to finish with ease.
In the last 25 minutes the momentum was red and white, with Maguire controlling the game. He had a low free kick cleared off the line just minutes after McGeady’s equaliser. Max Power came close to winning the game, with a powerful half-volley parried away by the keeper in the dying minutes.
The final whistle blew, and groans of disappointment echoed throughout the ground.
Sunderland vs Accrington player ratings:
Jon McLaughlin (7/10): Can’t be blamed for either goal, but distribution was poor at times today.
Luke O’Nien (6/10): Average defensively but got forward well when we were chasing the game.
Jack Baldwin (4/10): Very wasteful and predictable in possession, as well as rushing into a rash tackle in the box.
Jimmy Dunne (5/10): Like his partner, gave the ball away too much. Didn’t seem confident in the tackle and fouled their striker too many times.
Reece James (6/10): Put in a few decent crosses and got up and down the line well. Reliable as usual.
Grant Leadbitter (6/10): Steady in possession, but needs to create more.
George Honeyman (7/10): George impressed with an energetic performance. Offered a lot going forward and took his goal well.
Aiden McGeady (7/10): As usual, a 50/50 performance from McGeady. Seemed lazy at times, but fantastic in others. He’s so infuriating because we all know that on his day, he can be the best player in the league.
Lynden Gooch (6/10): Failed to impact the first half much but made lots of positive moves in the second.
Will Grigg (6/10): Seemed a lot sharper today, but again missed two golden chances. He desperately needs this first goal.
Charlie Wyke (7/10): Decent in the air and showed grit and passion that was refreshing to see from the big man. This spell on the bench seems to have done him the world of good.
Chris Maguire (8/10): Brilliant from The King. He completely changed the game when he came on. Needs to start the game on Tuesday.
Lewis Morgan (6/10): Energetic, but fairly anonymous.
Max Power (6/10): Same as Morgan really. Had a powerful shot saved.