Sunderland remain bottom of the Championship after drawing 1-1 away at Millwall in a close affair at the Den this afternoon, with a Bryan Oviedo’s stunner not enough to earn the Mackems all three points.
After dominating the first half, Sunderland weren’t able to hold on to their lead and, in the end, a draw was probably a fair result.
Millwall: Jordan Archer, James Meredith, Shaun Hutchinson, Shaun Williams, Lee Gregory, Mahlon Romeo, Jed Wallace, Steve Morison, George Saville, Jake Cooper, Ben Marshall.
Subs: David Martin, Conor McLaughlin, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Tim Cahill, Fred Onyedinma, Tom Elliott, Jason Shackell.
Sunderland: Jason Steele, John O’Shea, Tyias Browning, Lamine Kone, Adam Matthews, Bryan Oviedo, Lee Cattermole, Ovie Ejaria, Aiden McGeady, Callum McManaman, Ashley Fletcher.
Subs: Lee Camp, Billy Jones, Jonny Williams, Josh Maja, George Honeyman, Ethan Robson, Joel Asoro.
Lining up in a fluid 5-4-1 formation, Sunderland started on the front foot in an attempt to gain an advantage early on in the game. Millwall - who, whilst being incredibly well-drilled, are hardly famed for their tika-taka approach - tried to get the ball from back to front quickly, testing Sunderland’s back-line both physically and aerially.
Sunderland’s first real chance came after a good spell of play in the 18th minute - a well worked cross from Adam Matthews went right across the path of Ashley Fletcher, who couldn’t connect with the ball to give his side the advantage.
And the Mackems continued to dominate in the first half an hour, eventually opening the scoring in unbelievable style.
Having won a corner, Aiden McGeady - who was restored to the starting lineup for the first time since the Bretford defeat - played it short to Bryan Oviedo, who cut inside and absolutely thumped a shot towards goal, putting Sunderland deservedly ahead.
OVIEDO 1-0!Posted by Roker Report on Saturday, March 3, 2018
The rest of the half played perfectly into Sunderland’s hands, with Millwall appearing increasingly rattled with the way that the game was going against them. Bar a couple of shots from range, which were gathered comfortably by Jason Steele, the home side couldn’t settle.
Chris Coleman’s side went into the break 1-0 up and deservedly so, with the decision by the Sunderland manager to pick an attacking line-up looking increasingly vindicated.
HT: Millwall 0-1 Sunderland (Bryan Oviedo, 30’)
Chris Coleman - as expected - made no changes to his side at the break, with the away side looking to keep tight a hold of the promising lead that they had worked so hard to achieve.
Millwall predictably upped their tempo, and with a raucous home crowd behind them they pushed for an equaliser.
Impressively though Sunderland defended calmly, but in order to give us fresh ideas and an outlet to take the pressure off the back line Coleman replaced Callum McManaman with Joel Asoro and went with two up front.
Millwall continued to place pressure on Sunderland, and despite the best efforts of Jason Steele - who made a number of decent saves - they eventually broke through.
With the ball bobbling around in the area, Tyneside-born defender Shaun Hutchinson poked the ball over the line and despite the protests of the Sunderland players on the line, the goal was correctly given by the assistant referee.
Millwall’s goal - doesn’t look over the line to me....Posted by Roker Report on Saturday, March 3, 2018
In fairness to Millwall they had worked incredibly hard after the break and deserved their goal, whilst Sunderland did their usual trick of sitting deep in an unsuccessful attempt to soak up the pressure.
The Lions continued to dominate and Sunderland sat deeper and deeper, only really breaking away whenever Millwall piled forward. A good cross from the left by Ashley Fletcher flew straight across the face of goal, with nobody in a red and white shirt there to meet it.
The rest of the half was a scrappy affair as both sides went in search of an equaliser, and despite Millwall’s best efforts they couldn’t break Sunderland’s defence again.
The draw was probably a fair result on the balance of the game, and whilst a draw does very little to improve Sunderland’s standing they are four points from safety, with many of the teams above them holding a game in hand over the Wearsiders following this weekend’s postponements.
FT: Millwall (Hutchinson, 69’) 1-1 Sunderland (Oviedo, 30’)
Jason Steele, 7/10: An impressive return to the side. Caught everything confidently and when we were 1-0 up made some crucial saves. Was unlucky to concede, really.
John O’Shea, 6/10: Didn’t do much wrong really.
Tyias Browning, 6/10: Doesn’t look comfortable on the left of a three but did well.
Lamine Kone, 6/10: Another game where he never really put a foot wrong.
Adam Matthews, 5/10: Doesn’t influence the game enough as a wing back.
Bryan Oviedo, 7/10: Superb finish for his goal.
Lee Cattermole, 6/10: Not particularly good or bad either way.
Ovie Ejaria, 6/10: Moved the ball well and attempted to influence proceedings more than some of his teammates did.
Aiden McGeady, 6/10: His quick thinking led to the goal from Oviedo but he wasn’t particularly threatening after that. Was replaced at the right time having struggled with his defensive duties after the break.
Callum McManaman, 5/10: Offered a decent outlet but didn’t work hard enough when Millwall came at us in the second half.
Ashley Fletcher, 5/10: Cannot play as a lone striker. Not strong or aggressive enough to do the job of two men up top. Looked loads better once Asoro came on to take some of the pressure away from him.
(SUB) Joel Asoro, 6/10: Offered a decent outlet when he was introduced.
(SUB) George Honeyman, 5/10: Wasn’t really on long enough to contribute.
Man of the Match: Bryan Oviedo.