Sunderland showed their fight to come from two goals down to claim a point at Walsall in a match which had many fans questioning Max Powers’ actions.
Bryan Oviedo returned to the starting line-up as did Josh Maja, Power replaced Dylan McGeough in the heart of the midfield. Chris Maguire was amongst the substitutes.
Sunderland starting line-up:
Matthews Baldwin Flanagan James
Gooch McGeady Oviedo
Sunderland made a positive start with a flurry of corners in the first 15 minutes, Tom Flanagan headed just over from one of these as the side unbeaten since the start of October looked to strike first. Minutes later it looked like they would have their work cut out.
Max Power always looked in trouble as he went in late on Liam Kinsella, referee Craig Hicks didn’t hesitate to give the on-loan Wigan midfielder his marching orders, meaning Sunderland would have to play 70 minutes with ten men.
Minutes before half time Walsall had a golden opportunity to take the lead. George Dobson capitalised on hesitation from Jon McLaughlin and Flanagan before rounding the keeper, somehow however he missed the open goal and saw his effort rebound off the post to safety. A huge let off for the Black Cats.
HT: Walsall 0-0 Sunderland AFC
It took just a minute of the second half for the hosts to make the most of their advantage. Nicky Devlins cross across the box was tucked away into the bottom corner by Josh Gordon. Not the best start to the half by the visitors.
It got a lot worse just five minutes later when Josh Ginnelly beat two Sunderland defenders far too easily before curling a superb effort into the top corner of McLaughlin’s goal, the Black Cats unbeaten run was now in serious jeopardy.
Sunderland of old would have led down and died in this position, but the new Sunderland are made of stronger stuff. With half an hour left on the clock substitute Luke O’Nien beat his man out wide, played the ball into Lyndon Gooch who crossed into the box. Aiden McGeady was on hand to convert to half the deficit. 2-1. The 3,000+ travelling fans could sense the comeback was on.
It looked as though time may have just about run out, up stepped Lyndon Gooch. He controlled the ball well in the box before turning and firing on a knife edge into the far corner; cue absolute pandemonium in the away end. A fantastic show of character from Jack Ross’ side. Roll on a huge match on Tuesday night as Barnsley come to Wearside.
FT: Walsall 2-2 Sunderland AFC