Sunderland started the New Year with a 0-0 bore draw in an incredibly uneventful game at Sixfields.

The first half was a poor 45 minutes of football with neither side creating anything on goal. The second wasn’t any better with no real quality able to break the deadlock – it was Sunderland’s eighth draw, the most in League One this season.

Fresh from Covid-19 troubles, Lee Johnson’s men were back in action looking to gain some momentum going into the new year.

Lining up in a 4-3-3 formation, it was a familiar starting 11 for the lads - Dion Sanderson was the only notable change as he came in at left-back with Callum McFadzean and Denver Hume both unavailable.

Five minutes in, Northampton were the first to have an effort towards goal. Nicky Adams cut in from the left and fired an effort 20 yards out which had Burge scrambling to his left but flew wide of the target.

Sunderland’s first effort was from a Grant Leadbitter free kick - Charlie Wyke met the ball eight yards out and should have worked Jonathan Mitchell in the Northampton goal.

20 minutes into the match and it was a scrappy affair with neither side taking control of the match and testing either keeper.

With 10 minutes to go in the half, Aiden McGeady played in a lovely ball into the box that just evaded Josh Scowen who was only a yard or so out from goal.

Referee Leigh Doughty had made some strange decisions but made a great call as he booked Ryan Watson who tried to con the ref as he dived in the box.

The first half ended, and it was a game starved of quality, there had only been one shot on target. Sunderland needed to play with a bit more energy and get Jack Diamond and McGeady involved.

The hosts had started the second half the better and came out with greater intensity but lacked the final ball to get in behind the Sunderland backline.

An hour into proceedings and neither side had tested either keeper, and Johnson made the changes as Chris Maguire, and Lynden Gooch replaced Max Power and Jack Diamond.

Sunderland’s best chance of the half came from a Leadbitter corner, it dropped to Wyke, but he was falling back and scooped his effort over the bar from close range.

The game was there for the taking and asking for someone to go for broke and really take advantage and get the three points.

Northampton almost got a winner with five minutes left, Sam Hoskins manged to get an effort on target and took a deflection on its way and was well saved by Burge.

The referee blew his whistle for the final time and did everyone involved a favour with neither team ever looking like they would break the deadlock.

Full Time: Northampton 0-0 Sunderland

ALS Man of the Match: Dion Sanderson

Sunderland: Burge; McLaughlin, Wright, Flanagan, Sanderson; Power (Maguire 68’), Leadbitter, Scowen; Diamond (Gooch 68’), Wyke (Graham 88’), McGeady (O’Brien 79’)

Subs Not Used: Matthews, Willis & Embleton