Sunderland moved up to 5th in League One despite a drab goalless draw under the lights at the SoL. Doncaster were the better side in the first half and looked the most likely to have gone into the break 1-0 up. Sunderland picked up in the second half but couldn’t break down the Donny backline as it ended in a stalemate.
Sunderland continued with the same line-up which beat MK Dons last time out and were looking to gain a second victory over Doncaster in the space of a month.
Under the lights and in front of the Sky cameras it was all a bit flat – with the two sides feeling each other out.
Without testing Jon McLaughlin, Doncaster had grown into the game and knocked the ball about well looking to test the Sunderland backline. Sunderland, meanwhile, were awful in possession with Chris Maguire giving the ball away poorly on two occasions.
Sunderland’s first chance of the game was through a Maguire corner that was whipped into the near post and met by Joel Lynch who headed it just wide of the near post.
The lads were struggling to create anything; Lynden Gooch and Chris Maguire hadn’t got going at all - it was all a bit slow and lethargic.
Five minutes before the break and Sunderland created something - Hume managed to pick out Maguire on the edge of the box, but his effort was well wide - that just about summed up Sunderland's half.
Tonight’s referee was having a nightmare; decision after decision he got wrong with the worst coming late in the half as Charlie Wyke was clipped, but the man in yellow gave the big striker a card for diving.
To put it politely, the first half was awful. Neither goalkeeper had to make a save and Sunderland simply hadn’t got going – a vast improvement was needed.
Doncaster’s best chance of the game came through Niall Ennis who was played in by Reece James, but the striker couldn’t manage to control his shot which flew over the bar.
Sunderland had finally come alive and produced the best move of the match, the lads worked it well and Jordan Willis crossed in a fine low ball to Maguire who blazed over.
The away side came so close to taking the lead as Ennis’ effort was blocked by McLaughlin and it dropped to Jon Taylor whose header was inches away.
The pace of the game had finally sped up and Sunderland were a threat down the left as Hume’s ball in was asking to be put home, but neither Wyke nor Luke O’Nien could turn it in.
Maguire played a fine ball through to O’Nien who should have been selfish and fired it towards goal, but his cross missed everyone in the box.
Sunderland made a double change with 20 minutes to go as Kyle Lafferty made his home debut replacing Wyke and Maguire made way for Duncan Watmore.
Alim Ozturk got away with one as Ennis looked to be through on goal, but it hit the hand of the Turk who ‘accidentally’ prevented the strike from racing away.
With just over ten minutes to play the game had calmed down again and it was a cagey affair with Sunderland slipping back into their old ways and passing it poorly.
In possession Sunderland had been woeful, McLaughlin picked out Taylor with his kick and was incredibly fortunate that it led to nothing.
In injury time O’Nien put in a great ball in towards Watmore whose header was straight at Seny Dieng.
With only seconds to spare Sunderland were inches away from winning it - Hume’s ball in found its way to Watmore who didn’t get the power on it to beat Dieng who saved well.
Full Time: Sunderland 0-0 Doncaster
ALS Man of the Match: Denver Hume
Ratings vs Doncaster
Jon McLaughlin (7/10): Did what he had to without any fuss- other than one dodgy kick.
Luke O’Nien (7/10): Provided an attacking threat and good defensively when under pressure.
Jordan Willis (7/10): Had a few lapses in concentration in the opening stages but made up for it with a really good second half.
Alim Ozturk (8/10): Always switched on and always made the right decision. Good passing under pressure.
Joel Lynch (6/10): His long passes were never long enough. Decent in the air though and had a huge chance with a header from a corner.
Denver Hume (7/10): Struggled at first like many, but grew into it and quickly became our only attacking outlet.
Max Power (7/10): A few stray passes but showed good leadership again.
George Dobson (6/10): Contributed defensively with his usual tenacity and energy levels. Sloppy on the ball throughout though and looked a little scared to shoot.
Chris Maguire (5/10): Too casual on the ball at time. CM’s deliveries were very poor tonight and was subbed for Watmore.
Lynden Gooch (6/10): A bit too selfish at points and ponderous on the ball, but also showed glimpses of quality in his dribbling.
Charlie Wyke (6/10): Tried to link play but struggled against Doncaster’s physicality and got absolutely nothing from the referee.
Duncan Watmore (6/10): Ran down blind alleys but at least added the extra work rate and energy that Maguire was lacking.
Kyle Lafferty (6/10): Held the ball up well at times and could prove to be an important asset going forward.