A decent crowd of almost 30,000 watched on as Sunderland and Derby County shared the spoils at the SoL this evening in the opening game of the 2017/18 Championship campaign.
Sunderland took to the front foot in the opening exchanges of the game and played some direct, attacking football. Aiden McGeady nearly found the net after 10 minutes, thanks to some good work from Grabban and Honeyman. The former Preston man was denied however, and could have possibly played in Vaughan for a better opportunity to score.
The Lads were left to rue the missed chance just minutes later as Galloway was beaten by Derby’s right winger with worrying ease. The subsequent pass ricocheted into the path of Bradley Johnson who slammed home with little pressure. Poor from the defence.
Lee Cattermole then forced a great save from Scott Carson after 25 minutes when a half-volley was tipped over the bar from 12 yards, while McGeady and Honeyman continued to create opportunities for their teammates.
Grabban was next to almost equalise as he fired over a tricky volley from inside the Derby area on 37 minutes; however, the on loan forward made amends just a few moments later after an unfortunate handball gave the lively striker the perfect chance to find a leveller. Grabban fired his chance into the bottom corner and Sunderland were level heading into the break after a relatively positive opening 45 minutes.
The second half was a tense affair with chances at either end; however, neither side was able to capitalise.
Vaughan fired wide and Grabban hit the post while Derby missed two good chances of their own. Yet, as the game wore on both sides eased the pressure and the game descended into a rather scrappy, fiery affair. Nugent was lucky to stay on the field after a heavy elbow on Brendan Galloway and James Vaughan was left infuriated after some of the challenges he received.
Ultimately neither side were able to capitalise and the game ended 1-1. Sunderland looked promising at times, yet let sloppy errors into their play the longer the game wore on. A decent result, though Grayson and Grabban in particular will be disappointed with the single point rather than all three.
Steele: 7/10 - Looked shaky at first, but his distribution was impressive. Made a hash of a save from Huddlestone after 20 mins, but made up for it with three top saves in the second half.
Jones: 7/10 - Canny at either end of the pitch, and picked up a corker of a black eye. Ran well, but lacks a bit of quality with the ball at his feet.
Browning: 7/10 - Very solid in defence though perhaps could have done better for their goal as he and Jones ran to the ball rather than holding their position. Looks very capable at this level, though. Impressive full debut.
Kone: 7/10 - Would have been an 8 other than a few daft moments in the first half. Was class second half, though - shame we will probably lose him.
Galloway: 6/10 - Still looks a bit suspect at left back. Did well going forward, but at fault for their goal.
Cattermole: 8/10 - Everywhere today and was largely good in possession. Creative at times and solid in the middle.
Ndong: 7/10 - Energetic and largely good with possession - sloppy at times. Will do well this season with more game time.
Honeyman: 8/10 - Thought George looked very good tonight and will do very well this season. Good in possession and made some promising runs and passes. Great work.
McGeady: 9/10 (MOTM) - Unplayable at times and nearly everything we created came through him. Set-pieces were brilliant and his general play was fantastic. Still a little rusty, but any success this season will largely be down to him.
Grabban: 8/10 - Good penalty and unlucky not to bag his second after hitting the post. Impressed wih his pace and tenacity - think he could be very good for us with a little more quality in our service.
Vaughan: 7/10 - Worked hard and missed a good chance. Fairly solid in the air, but definitely provided an outlet. Hope we don’t rely on long balls to him as we looked much better when playing through McGeady and Honeyman out wide. Desperately needs a goal to settle.