Sunderland have added another match to their busy December schedule as they drew 1-1 against Walsall in the second round of the FA Cup today at the Banks’s Stadium.
The team now has eight games over a 31 day period in all competitions - a very busy month for Jack Ross, and I am sure that some of the younger players may get a chance to feature, even if it is for the Checkatrade Trophy match on Tuesday against Notts County.
For the second time in eight days we travelled to Walsall with 948 Sunderland fans in attendance compared to the 3,279 visiting fans last Saturday.
Jack Ross made two changes to the side that won 4-2 against Barnsley at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night in League One. Luke O’Nien - who scored against the Tykes and had been vying for a start - was given his wish when he replaced the injured George Honeyman. Also, Chris Maguire picked up a knock so had to be taken out of the starting eleven, with Bryan Oviedo coming into the side.
The match started sloppily and with both teams having chances that could have put themselves in front. The cup tie didn’t have the tempo that we had last weekend, where we dominated the opening 23 minutes before Max Power’s red card, which completely flipped the game on its head.
Meanwhile, in the 37th minute, the turning point came when in-form Aiden McGeady gave the visitors the lead in front of the Sunderland fans. The ball in from Oviedo was teasing but left by Maja, waiting for the Irishman to drill the ball under the Walsall keeper and into the bottom left corner of the net.
Eight minutes after the interval, Walsall were level through Andy Cook and the match really became a cup tie. The ball was whipped into the area and volleyed home by the Newcastle supporter from just over 10 yards out.
No team managed to score a winner, so the match ended Walsall FC 1-1 Sunderland AFC, meaning both teams would have to play again on Tuesday 11th November 2018 at the Stadium of Light in a replay to see who will progress to the third round of the draw.
The draw for the third round takes place on BBC One on Monday night, with both Walsall and Sunderland in the hat to see who the winner of the replay will face.
Next up for Sunderland, we face a home match against Notts County in the second round of the Checkatrade Trophy. If I was Jack Ross, I would rest some of the key players such as McGeady, Gooch and Maja and field the players who normally are on the bench, but knowing Jack Ross, I think he will play a fairly strong side so that we can progress to the next round of a competition we stand a real chance of winning.