Sunderland managed to claw back from 3-0 to achieve a draw this afternoon at Ashton Gate, with Joel Asoro’s deflected cross finding its way past Frankie Fielding right at the death to give the away side the most unlikely point they’re likely to secure all season.
Having found themselves three down inside the opening 45 minutes, two own goals either side of Aiden McGeady’s strike gave Chris Coleman’s side a morale-boosting point when all hope appeared to be lost, sending the travelling Red and White army home far happier than they perhaps could have imagined.
Bristol City: Frank Fielding, Korey Smith, Aden Flint, Bailey Wright (c), Joe Bryan, Jamie Paterson, Josh Brownhill, Marlon Pack, Ryan Kent, Famara Diedhiou, Bobby Reid
Subs: Luke Steele, Bjorgvin Magnusson, Liam Walsh, Niclas Eliasson, Cauley Woodrow, Gustav Engvall, Lois Diony
Sunderland: Lee Camp, Jake Clarke-Salter, John O’Shea, Tyias Browning, Billy Jones, Bryan Oviedo, Lee Cattermole, George Honeyman, Ovie Ejaria, Joel Asoro, Ashley Fletcher
Subs: Jason Steele, Aiden McGeady, Donald Love, Lynden Gooch, Josh Maja, Ethan Robson, Kazenga LuaLua
Sunderland’s first sight of goal came in the opening minute as Ashley Fletcher intercepted a pass and burst forward before firing his shot over the bar - sadly, this wouldn’t be a sign of things to come.
Just three minutes later the lads were behind. Sunderland conceded a free-kick which was swung into the box and chased down by City defender Aden Flint, who escaped the feebly pursuing blue shirts with ease before rounding Lee Camp and tapping the ball into the net.
Joel Asoro earned the visitors a half-chance as he did well to hold the ball up on the edge of the box before picking out Fletcher, but the man on loan from Boro blazed his effort over from a tight angle.
Sunderland just looked generally off the pace, turning out a drab performance in almost every respect for the opening twenty minutes - and it only got worse from there.
Bristol City doubled their advantage on thirty-one minutes. Famara Diedihou latched onto a through ball, raced down the middle, became the second oppositon player to round Camp with relative ease and fired the ball into the roof of the net.
A forlorn Chris Coleman watched on and “you’re not fit to wear the shirt” was bellowed from the 1,500 strong collective voice in the Ashton Gate away end.
The home side got their third not too long after. A ball was squared to an unmarked Diedhiou lightyears away from the immeasurably slow John O’Shea, and the City frontman found his second of the afternoon from close range.
Bristol City 3-0 Sunderland (Flint 4’, Diedihou 31’, 36’)
⏱️ A miserable opening 45 minutes at Ashton Gate... pic.twitter.com/1IZ8cT6Vou— Sunderland AFC ⚪ (@SunderlandAFC) February 10, 2018
Sunderland started the second half seldom showing more enthusiasm than they did in the opening forty-five minutes.
Diedihou seemed to have compounded the Black Cats’ misery even further when he had the ball in the net on fifty-seven minutes - but he was denied his hat-trick as the goal was disallowed for a handball.
Ryan Kent was the next City player to seemingly make it four when he capped off a marauding run into the box with a powerful effort, but Billy Jones got his body in the way to deflect the danger.
We would, eventually, start seeing more goals in the latter half of this match but, contrary to intuition, it wouldn’t be Bristol City netting them.
Sunderland pulled a goal back on seventy minutes when Lee Cattermole rose to meet a cross from Jones - he may have only managed to hit the bar with his header, but the rebound caught Josh Brownhill by surprise and he trundled the ball into his own net, thus giving the visitors a glimmer of hope.
But this wasn’t to be a consolation goal - ohhhh no.
Substitute Aiden McGeady made it two for the lads not too long after they’d clawed their first back. Asoro was clipped on the byline as he ran into the box and won his side a free-kick, which was taken by Cattermole. The lads’ vice-captain squared the resuling set-piece into the path of a rapidly advancing McGeady, and the Republic of Ireland international finessed his side’s second goal of the game into the back of the net.
The comeback was well and truly on.
Kent nearly killed off this miraculous mackem fightback as he flashed a dangerous effort across the face of goal, but thankfully it drifted harmlessly away.
And then the drama ensued. Frank Fielding made an unbelievable save with one minute of normal time left to play in order to keep his side in the game. Fletcher had the entire goal in his wake as he let loose a shot from a rebound, but the City ‘stopper somehow got a hand to it and warded off the danger with an infuriatingly good bit of goalkeeping.
But that wasn’t the last they’d hear of Sunderland.
With added time underway, Joel Asoro brought down a long pass from McGeady before working his way into the box, firing the ball into the Bristol City box which bounced off the amassing bodies and into the net. It was three-all. Sunderland had come back from what seemed like yet another terrible defeat and snatched a result at Ashton Gate when all hope had looked well and truly lost.
Bristol City 3-3 Sunderland (Flint 4’, Diedihou 31’, 36’, Brownhill OG 70’, McGeady 81’, Pack OG 90+2’)
Lee Camp - 5/10: Still not a spectacular improvement on our goalkeeping situation, but wasn’t particularly bad today.
Jake Clarke-Salter - 5/10: Decent enough.
John O’Shea - 4/10: Looked very slow today. His lack of pace became particularly apparent when the home side got their third.
Tyias Browning - 5/10: First touch wasn’t brilliant, but he didn’t have a bad game otherwise.
Billy Jones - 7/10: Came into his own a lot more in the second half. Set up Cattermole for our opener and made a great block from Ryan Kent to keep us in the game.
Bryan Oviedo - 5/10: So-so.
Lee Cattermole - 6/10: Seemed to hide at times today but he was an instrumental part of us getting back into the game.
George Honeyman - 5/10: Was alright, didn’t really get into the game.
Ovie Ejaria - 6/10: Looked tricky but didn’t have that much of an impact.
Joel Asoro - 8/10: Fantastic. Gave us green shoots of optimism all afternoon, even when we looked at our worst, and once we came back into the game he rose to the occasion.
Ashley Fletcher - 6/10: Unlucky not to be the one we’re calling the last-minute hero.
(SUB) Kazenga LuaLua - 5/10: Personally hoped the fresh injection of pace he offers would do a lot more than it did.
(SUB) Aiden McGeady - 8/10: Sunlins gone down and I couldn’t give a f*ck! We’ve got... Aiden McGeady!
(SUB) Ethan Robson - 6/10: Kept things ticking over.
Man of the Match: Joel Asoro - has to be!