A much-changed Sunderland side were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by AFC Wimbledon at the SOL on Tuesday evening after Lee Johnson’s plans were disrupted through Covid-19. AFC Wimbledon took the lead from the spot late in the first half through Joe Pigott after Callum McFadzean conceded a penalty. Sunderland equalised midway through the second half thanks to a superb finish from Bailey Wright but the lads struggled to breakdown Wimbledon’s stubborn defence and were forced to settle for a point.
A couple of hours before kick off rumours began circulating that there had been a Covid-19 outbreak within the Sunderland squad. This was confirmed by an official tweet from the club whereby they revealed that eight first team players would be missing from the squad and attempts to postpone the game with the EFL proved fruitless.
The outbreak forced Lee Johnson into five changes with Sanderson, Dobson, Grigg, Embleton and O’Brien starting in place of Flanagan, Scowen, Power, McGeady and Wyke. It was also a youthful looking bench with four of the youngsters named in the squad having played for the under 23s against Norwich on Monday.
Sunderland forced an early corner after good pressure from McFadzean on the left wing but Leadbitter’s set piece was cleared. Sunderland had an early chance after Aiden O’Brien did well to control a volleyed diagonal ball into the box from Grant Leadbitter. O’Brien then teed up Jack Diamond on the edge of the box who scuffed a shot across goal which Will Grigg turned towards the bottom corner, but the keeper was equal to it.
The visitors had there first chance after hitting Sunderland on the counterattack after Grant Leadbitter’s long range shot was charged down after 20 minutes. Wimbledon broke at speed with Longman able to ride a couple of half-hearted tackles from Sunderland before his shot was saved by Lee Burge.
Sunderland had a good effort on goal after a neat passage of play involving Grant Leadbitter and Bailey Wright set up a shooting opportunity on the angle of the box for Embleton. The youngster drove a powerful left footed effort towards goal which the keeper turned around the post for a corner which the visitors cleared.
On the half hour Jack Diamond did well to beat his man on the right before clipping a low cross into the box for George Dobson but he skewed his effort into the air. Diamond was causing problems for Wimbledon and forced a free kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box after tumbling under a challenge. However, the free kick was again easily cleared with Sunderland’s set pieces lacking quality in the opening stages of the game.
We got another good cross into the box from open play from the right five minutes later this time from Connor McLaughlin. McLaughlin’s cross beat the man at the front post but Will Grigg didn’t manage to turn the ball on goal with an attempted backheel flick after getting in front of his man.
Five minutes before half time Elliot Embleton had a couple of attempts on goal firstly a header from a cross from the left wing which the keeper held. Then after a decent run across the pitch he dragged a low left footed shot wide of the post from around 25 yards.
AFC Wimbledon were awarded a penalty before the break after Callum McFadzean tugged back Jack Rudoni in the box after Rudoni had jinked past him on the right wing. Joe Pigott opened the scoring sending Lee Burge the wrong way from the spot tucking the ball into the bottom left hand corner. The visitors almost doubled their lead in first half injury time when Longman got in behind Sunderland, but Lee Burge kept his effort out.
Lee Johnson made a change at the break with Lynden Gooch replacing George Dobson as Sunderland attempted to get back into the game. With AFC Wimbledon content to sit on their one goal lead it took Sunderland almost 15 minutes of the second half to have an effort on goal with the visitors keeping ten men behind the ball. Aiden O’Brien tried his luck from the edge of the box after being found by Elliot Embleton, but his shot looped over the bar.
With half an hour remaining we forced a corner after Jack Diamond’s cross from the right was deflected behind but again Leadbitter’s delivery was poor failing to beat the man at the front post. We quickly managed to regain possession and drew level through Bailey Wright after he outmuscled a defender before smashing Jack Diamond’s cross past the keeper with a superb left footed volley.
Sunderland were almost caught out immediately from the restart after Longman again found himself through on goal, but his shot struck the crossbar. We had another let off a minute later after Longman carried the ball into the box unchallenged before teeing up Piggott, but he fired a shot off target. Sunderland should have found themselves behind with 15 minutes left to play when McLoughlin found himself unmarked inside the box, but he sliced a shot wide.
Lee Johnson made his second change of the game with Will Grigg replaced by Mitchell Curry who nabbed a brace for the under 23’s yesterday. He was soon followed onto the pitch by Jordan Willis who replaced Callum McFadzean with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Sunderland didn’t muster an effort in the closing stages of the game and in fact it was the visitors who went closest with Steve Seddon missing a chance after being found in the box by Rudoni. There were three minutes of added time, but again it was Lee Burge who was called into action to block a shot from Chislett meaning the points were shared.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 AFC Wimbledon 1
ALS Man of the Match: Jack Diamond
SUNDERLAND: Burge; McLaughlin, Wright, Sanderson, McFadzean (Willis 80); Dobson (Gooch 46), Leadbitter, Embleton; Diamond, Grigg (Curry 75), O’Brien.
Subs: Neil, Younger, Taylor, Patterson.