Walsall (A) Report

Ten-man Sunderland came from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Walsall thanks to Aiden McGeady strike and a last-minute Lynden Gooch goal.

Jack Ross’ men dominated the opening 20 minutes but following Max Power’s third red card of the season the game flipped. Walsall scored twice within the opening seven minutes of the second half, but Aiden McGeady got Sunderland back into it. A last gasp Gooch goal completed the comeback as the Sunderland fans went into ecstasy.

Sunderland travelled to Walsall for the first of two journeys to the West Midlands this week and looked to get back to winning ways.

The two sides met for the first time since 2004 where Sunderland came out 4-1 winners away to Walsall.

Jack Ross made a surprise change to the line-up as Bryan Oviedo replaced Chris Maguire. It’s not a position we’ve seen the Costa Rican play often, but it’s a chance for him to get back into the side and look to gain a regular spot.

Josh Maja and Max Power both returned to the starting line up in place of Jerome Sinclair and Dylan McGeouch who were injury doubts going into the game. The Scotsman missed out completely while Sinclair started on the bench

Walsall sat in 11th in the league and had only won two in their last seven. Last time out they lost to Port Vale at home and have only scored 19 goals this season, which is 14 less than Jack Ross’ side.

Sunderland almost took an early lead through a very unlikely source as Tom Flanagan stayed up from a corner. The centre-half got on the end of a great Power cross however, his header flew just wide of the post.

Power came close to opening the scoring with an effort of his own from range. Liam Roberts in the Walsall goal made an excellent save to deny the midfielder form breaking the deadlock.

Sunderland were on top and Jack Baldwin had a fine effort blocked. From a McGeady corner it was swung in and fell to the defender at the back post, and on the half volley, his effort looked goal bound but there were too many bodies in the way.

In the opening 15 minutes of the game Sunderland already had eight corners and 78% possession in the game, all that was missing from the perfect start was a goal.

Oviedo was the next to try and break the deadlock as Gooch cleverly chipped the ball over the defence. On the angle, Oviedo volleyed towards goal, again Roberts was there to save well.

For the third time, this season Max Power was sent off, for a player who had never been dismissed before this season it’s a staggering statistic. After dominating the opening 25 minutes it was a bitter blow. The man on loan from Wigan went in late on Liam Kinsella and was given a straight red.

After ten corners and little success, Oviedo’s effort almost went in above Roberts at the far post. His inswing delivery almost deceived the keeper, but he managed to get fingertips to it and save well.

With just under ten minutes to play in the half, Walsall had the ball in the back of the net. However, it was given offside as Andy Cook’s effort was ruled out.

God only knows how Walsall weren’t one up, Flanagan shielded the ball expecting McLaughlin to come and get it. George Dobson nicked the ball around the keeper and with the goal at his mercy six yards out he hit the post. It was an incredible let off minutes from the break as no one in the ground knew how he missed.

39 seconds into the second half The Saddlers took the lead, Josh Gordon got on the end of Nicky Devlin’s low cross and managed to beat Mclaughlin. Since the red card, the goal had been coming and Sunderland had a mountain to climb to get back in the game.

Walsall doubled the lead with an absolute thunderbolt from Josh Ginnelly, Jack Ross side were all over the shop and Walsall were having a whale of a time. Ginnelly cut inside and his effort flew into the top corner as McLaughlin had no chance.

It was looking as if it would be a case of how many for Walsall as they looked a side full of confidence and were looking to put their foot down.

Despite their dominance with just over half an hour left in the game, Sunderland were given a lifeline, after a great finish from McGeady. Gooch poked the ball into the box and it was met by the Irishman who on the half volley hit it low into the bottom corner.

Sunderland introduced Maguire into the game and the momentum had changed, the lads had found some confidence. The game had completely spun in favour of Sunderland, it now looked as if the home side were the team with ten men.

With only minutes to play Adam Matthews had a glorious chance to get the team level, but his header was blocked on the line after a great McGeady cross.

The game was not finished quite there, with only a minute left on the clock, Sunderland drew level thanks to a brilliant goal from Gooch. the American winger turned brilliantly and fired it low into the far corner. The Sunderland fans and players alike went crazy, some of the crowd behind the goal poured onto the pitch as the fans and players celebrated.

Final Score: 2-2

ALS Man of the Match: Aiden McGeady

Alex Miller