Josh Maja rescued Sunderland’s blushes this afternoon as Sunderland had to come from behind to rescue a point against a very physical Wycombe side.
Sunderland went down to a goal midway through the second half despite dominating proceedings; however, Josh Maja (who else?) popped up in the eighty-third minute to salvage a point for Jack Ross’ men.
In team news, Jack Ross fielded an unchanged side from the league win over Plymouth in our last league game, and once pre-match pleasantries - including a message of thanks from Stewart Donald - were completed, a shrill blast of the referee’s whistle started proceedings.
Sunderland dominated the opening minutes of the game, and nearly scored after some fantastic skill from Aiden McGeady opened an angle on goal - unfortunately, his shot flashed narrowly over.
It was clear to see within the opening ten minutes that Wycombe would look to play a direct brand of football, and that if Sunderland could keep the ball on the floor then they would cause the visitors problems.
Little action of any note followed until Wycombe missed a great chance just after the 30th minute. A diving header from a corner simply didn’t connect properly, the tame attempt trickling wide.
Sunderland simply could not find a way control the middle of the park, and Wycombe’s confidence was growing. The Lads did manage a decent opportunity just before the half, but McGeady again couldn’t find the target after a Sinclair flick-on gave the Irish winger a sight at goal.
A very dull first half.
Half-time: Sunderland 0-0 Wycombe
Sunderland started the opening moments of the second period in a much brighter fashion. A lovely ball from Jack Baldwin found McGeady whose cross was just too high for Sinclair; the movement and intent a welcome sight, however.
Ross had seen enough, though, and decided shortly after to make a double change as McGeouch and Sinclair made way for Power and Maja.
The fans were encouraged by Sunderland’s start, and choruses of “Ha’way Lads,” and “Sunderland til I die” boomed from the stands. The Lads were encouraged, a Josh Maja shot bobbling past the left hand post after more lively play. Chris Maguire in particular looked re-energized after the break, and made a real nuisance of himself across the pitch.
Then, disaster struck. A long ball into the Sunderland box was headed down before Oneydinma lashed home leaving McLaughlin no chance - Sunderland left with around twenty-five minutes to find a way back into the game.
Some good play ensued, and Sunderland increased their urgency, the fans providing the noise required to drive their team forward. Bryan Oviedo the final sub brought on in an effort to swing the tide.
Pressure began to rise as Wycombe looked to tire; Sunderland were looking dangerous when in possession. Great play on the right hand side saw George Honeyman get past his man, his cross was bundled away by the Wycombe defence but only so far as Josh Maja who lashed home from six yards out - Sunderland level with seven minutes to find a second.
A wicked half-volley from Max Power almost found a winner in the dying minutes, but his strike was saved well by the Wycombe keeper. The resulting corner was half cleared as the referee blew prematurely for a Wycombe player down in the box. Five minutes of added time.
Both teams looked to fashion a winner as a Wycombe shot was blocked before Maguire fired a volley into the Wycombe keeper’s arms.
Full-Time: Sunderland 1-1 Wycombe
Jon McLaughlin, 6/10: Didn’t have a great deal to do . No chance with the goal.
Adam Matthews, 7/10: Looked sharp going forward, Sunderland’s main threat in the opening half. Tired as the game wore one, but a decent enough performance.
Tom Flanagan, 7/10: Solid display from Flanagan, nothing got past him today - a great signing.
Jack Baldwin, 6/10: Some great defending, but some sloppy moments, too.
Reece James, 6/10: Solid display, nothing flash. Mr Dependable.
George Honeyman, 7/10: Was too high up the pitch first half, but provided a great moment of magic to beat his man and deliver into the box for Maja’s equalizer.
Dylan McGeouch, 5/10: Didn’t keep the ball ticking over as well as he normally does, and was sloppy in possession on occasion.
Lynden Gooch, 5/10: Poor today from Gooch, he struggled to get going and didn’t provide much going forward. Everyone’s allowed an off day, though.
Aiden McGeady, 6/10: Flashes of brilliance, but moments of frustration. Same old Aiden.
Chris Maguire, 6/10: Poor first half, but much improved after the break. His harrying and determination clawed Sunderland back into the game.
Jerome Sinclair, 6/10: Runs well, pressures dilligently, but he just doesn’t have that little bit extra needed in order to find the back of the net.
(SUB) Max Power, 7/10: Power replaced McGeouch and could well keep his place moving forward. Enabled his team to dominate in the middle, and always looked to go forward. Unlucky not to get a goal.
(SUB) Josh Maja, 8/10: Some nice touches at times, but the clinical nature of Maja’s forward play stands him out from the crowd. Superb finish, exactly when we needed it.
(SUB) Bryan Oviedo, 6/10: Energetic and added another option in attack.
Man of the Match: Josh Maja.