Sunderland and Coventry shared the spoils following a thrilling second half- which saw Lee Cattermole’s third goal of the season cancelled out by Jonson Clarke-Harris’ strike.
Both keepers saved the day for the respective sides as Lee Burge and Jon McLaughlin pulled off some incredible saves to keep the game at 1-1.
With 5000 fans behind them, Sunderland made the trip to West Midlands on the back of a 4-1 victory to Rochdale.
The hosts have been a mixed bag this season and sat in 13th position going into the game. Mark Robins side have been inconsistent but, a win for the Sky Blues would see them get into the top half of the table.
Following a return to winning ways, Jack Ross named an unchanged side. Despite having Max Power back from suspension, the Scot has resisted the temptation to throw him back in. There was still no place for Duncan Watmore despite his return to full training.
Josh Maja has scored more goals than any teenager in England’s top leagues this season and was looking to edge closer to double figures.
The full team was as follows: McLaughlin, Gooch, Flanagan, Loovens, Baldwin, Hume, Cattermole, McGeouch, Honeyman, Maguire, Maja
Within three minutes of the game, Sunderland were forced into a change as Glenn Loovens went down holding his hamstring. Adam Matthews was brought on to replace the experienced Dutchman.
From Sunderland’s first effort of the game, it should have been 1-0. Chris Maguire’s free-kick was hit brilliantly but, the post came Coventry’s rescue. The rebound fell to George Honeyman who from six yards out couldn’t get over the ball and ballooned it over.
Sunderland were having some good spells of pressure but, barring the Maguire and Honeyman chances, the lads were struggling to create clear-cut chances in the opening half hour.
After Loovens’ injury, Sunderland were dealt a further blow as in-form Denver Hume was forced off with an injury. Bryan Oviedo replaced the youngster who will no doubt be gutted after securing a starting spot for consecutive weeks.
The longer the first half went on the scrappier the game became, neither side had stamped their authority on the game. Coventry edged the latter stages of the half but failed to test Jon McLaughlin.
Sunderland have been guilty of conceding from set pieces on too many occasions this season but, could have scored one of their own deep into injury time. Honeyman swung into the far post, it was met by Tom Flanagan who just couldn’t get the power to test Lee Burge.
Following a relatively poor first half, Sunderland started the second superbly. After some fine work down the right-hand side, Adam Matthews put in a brilliant low cross which eluded Maja but fell to Lee Cattermole free twelve yards out. The midfielder expertly drove the ball home to give Sunderland the lead.
It was Cattermole’s third strike of the season- his best ever tally in a season and we’re still in September!
Coventry had responded well, Connor Chaplin played a lovely one-two with Clarke-Harris. However, Chaplin’s dragged his effort wide of the goal. It was a warning to the lads that the game was far from over.
The Sunderland goal had massively spurred on the hosts, the game was being played at a far quicker pace than the first half. Tom Bayliss played in a fanatic ball behind Oviedo to Luke Thomas who was through on goal. McLaughlin came out quickly and did well to deny a Coventry equalizer.
Coventry were dominant and deservedly drew level with just over twenty minutes to play. Clarke Harris was the Sky Blues biggest threat and Dujon Sterling played into the striker who finished well, out of the reach of McLaughlin.
Oviedo was having an awful time against Thomas but almost got a goal after some fine work from Gooch. The American used his pace to beat his man and crossed into Oviedo whose first-time strike was well saved by Burge.
Coventry’s attacking duo was causing Sunderland all sorts of problems, Chaplin again tested McLaughlin who had been a very busy man.
Ross, who had made all three subs had a decision to make as Gooch looked to be really struggling with a hamstring injury.
Substitute Max Power whipped in a fantastic ball across the six-yard box to Gooch, he just couldn’t stretch enough to get there. The winger’s injury was still clearly affecting him and ten minutes earlier he probably would have got to the ball.
Sunderland had a glorious chance to score the winner as George Honeyman fired it from 15 yards out. It looked goal bound but, Burge got down brilliantly to keep it a 1-1.
From a nothing clearance forward, Flanagan completely missed his clearance which sent Chaplin through. McLaughlin did brilliantly to deny the Coventry striker who tried to chip him. He needed the help of Jack Baldwin to clear off the line as the ball was still goal-bound.
Final Score: Coventry 1-1 Sunderland
ALS Man of the Match: Jon McLaughlin