Phil Parkinson's Sunderland drew 1 – 1 with Simon Grayson's Blackpool in a rank game of football in a bitterly cold SOL where two of Sunderland's most maligned managers of recent times went head to head. Grayson's side took the lead after three minutes when Matthew Virtue beat Jon McLaughlin with a stunning strike which was cancelled out before the break by Charlie Wyke's volley. Sunderland were reduced to ten men midway through the second half when George Dobson picked up a second yellow card but this had little bearing on the outcome of the match. The result leaves Sunderland languishing in twelfth and closer to the relegation places than the top of the league.
Under fire manager Phil Parkinson made five changes to the side that lost at Gillingham last weekend. Out went Willis, McLaughlin, Leadbitter, Grigg and McNulty and in came Hume, Power, Maguire, Watmore and Wyke. As has been widely reported in the build up to the game Sunderland's most talented player Aiden McGeady was absent after being told he can leave the club in January following a bust up.
The visitors got the game underway kicking towards the North Stand and their supporters who had brought a decent following. We forced a couple of early corners but they came to nothing with Wyke heading the second well over and wide. Phil Parkinson’s side then fell behind after failing to deal with a long set piece which was launched into the box. Despite having several chances to clear it the ball eventually dropped to Virtue on the edge of the box who clipped the ball into the top corner past the diving McLaughlin.
After twenty minutes Sunderland fashioned an effort of sorts when a cross from the left was just missed by the outstretched Wyke before Dobson headed O’Nien's cross over the bar. Phil Parkinson’s side had offered very little in the opening stages other than hoofing the ball in the direction of Charlie Wyke and Duncan Watmore at every opportunity.
At the other end Blackpool looked more dangerous with Sunderland reliant on Jon McLaughlin denying Gnanduillet with a decent stop from the edge of the box. Ten minutes before half time Sunderland fashioned a good opportunity after a good run by Watmore allowed Hume to tee up Maguire. Maguire took a touch and volleyed goalwards but it was deflected wide for a corner.
The corner was from the left-hand side was cleared for one from the right hand side and from this set piece the lads drew level. Maguire whipped the corner into the front post for Charlie Wyke who found the top corner of the net with a tidy volleyed finish. We then forced a couple of corners towards the end of the half but never really threatened before there was a skirmish in the three minutes injury time on the half way line which saw Dobson and Gnanduillet both booked.
Simon Grayson made a change at the break with Scannellr replacing Kaikai but Phil Parkinson stuck with the same personnel. In the opening stages of the second half not much happened as both teams cancelled each other out until ten minutes in the visitors had a sight of goal after Luke O’Nien conceded a corner but McLaughlin was equal to the volleyed effort at the back post from the corner.
To say the game was a turgid affair would be being kind as both sides were equally as poor and ineffective as an attacking force. With half an hour to go Ozturk made a great last ditch tackle to deny Kaikai though the Blackpool forward was claiming he was fouled. With twenty five minutes remaining we forced a corner and almost took the lead after Maguire and Wyke again combined but this time the striker headed off the bar – Sunderland’s first decent attempt of the second half. A couple of minutes later Duncan Watmore was played in on goal but he skewed an effort well wide of the target.
With twenty minutes remaining Phil Parkinson made his first change with Lynden Gooch replacing Duncan Watmore. Two minutes later Sunderland were reduced to ten men after George Dobson was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Gnanduillet. It looked a harsh booking on first viewing as Dobson appeared to get the ball and catch the Blackpool forward with a follow through. Parkinson then made another change with Will Grigg replacing Charlie Wyke.
There was an off the ball incident with ten left to play as rain started lashing down in an already bitterly cold stadium. The ref brought play back and consulted his linesman and dished out a booking for each side ours going to Gooch and Blackpool’s to Tilt. Parkinson made his final change for the closing stages of the game with Grant Leadbitter replacing Chris Maguire.
Five minutes before the end the attendance of more thank 30k was announced which was a joke as the ground was half empty. Even the Roker End had pockets of empty seats which is unusual and should serve as a wake up call to Sunderland’s owner. The visitors then went close when Gnanduillet tried a shot from the edge of the box but it was deflected wide for a corner which Sunderland managed to clear.
There was four minutes added time but it was as equally as dismal as the other 90.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 Blackpool 1
ALS Man of the Match: Tom Flanagan