Ed’s Note: All of us here at Roker Report would like to congratulate Finlay on winning the national Stabilo Young Journalist of the Year competition - at the age of just 13, that is some achievement and is a testament to his hard work. Well done!
Our eight game winning run is over after a 1-1 draw against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday at the Stadium of Light.
We were back home after a spell away, which has felt like a few months although it has only been three weeks since we beat Southend United 3-0. There were 30,727 fans at the Stadium of Light with a small proportion of that number Wycombe Wanderers supporters, with the directors aiming for 40,000 on Boxing Day when we face Bradford City.
Jack Ross made one change to the side that won 2-0 at Plymouth last time we played in League One and stuck with the same side that won 2-1 at Port Vale in the FA Cup last Sunday. Jerome Sinclair came into the side for Josh Maja.
I can’t understand why the gaffer made that change as Maja is one of the league’s top scorers and you don’t bench your leading marksman, particularly after he’s just notched.
We applied pressure in the opening moments with McGeady and Gooch having shots that didn’t really trouble Matt Ingram, who’s on a seven day emergency loan from Queens Park Rangers.
Wycombe began to have their spells in the match and dominated more as the half was coming to an end. Just before the interval, Aiden McGeady had the best opportunity of the half when he was played through by Jerome Sinclair, who hadn’t really set the game alight, but his shot from the left drifted past the left post.
The Lads began the second period well but we fell behind in the 67th minute when we couldn’t clear yet another set piece and the ball fell down to Fred Onyedinma, the Millwall loanee, who struck the ball high into the roof of the Sunderland net.
We needed an immediate response to this, and we got it - and with the tempo of our play rising considerably, the fans got behind the team to urge them on.
We pushed and pushed for an equaliser and managed to pull the game level when George Honeyman dribbled the ball to the by-line and squared it across the box. The goalkeeper was off his line and despite a wall of defence stood in front of him, Josh Maja found a way past the Wycombe back-line before smashing a strike into the bottom left corner of the net.
After that, Power thundered a shot from long range but it was straight at the Wycombe Wanderers goalkeeper, and he was able to direct it away from the goal. In the end, the match ended all square - perhaps fairly when assessing the game as a whole.
Next up, we face an around 200 mile trip to Walsall, the first of two journeys to the midlands with the second a week after in the second round of the FA Cup. Hopefully, Lee Cattermole will be back available for this game as he has been a missing presence in the centre of midfield, while Josh Maja should come back into the side after scoring two goals in two matches in all competitions.
Meanwhile, Walsall will want to bounce back after a 0-0 draw at Fleetwood Town on Saturday lunchtime with a win against one of the biggest teams in the league.
With a sea of over 2,221 Sunderland supporters descending upon the Bescot Stadium, the fans will be hoping to see another victory before heading into the clash with promotion rivaks Barnsley on the following Tuesday night - a massive game that could tell us a lot about where this Sunderland side is really at.