Sunderland played out an entertaining draw against Leeds United this afternoon, initially taking the lead through Paddy McNair before the home side pulled one back through Pablo Hernandez.
There’s plenty of positives to take away from a game like this, but ultimately it may just turn out to be a case of too little too late - as a draw won’t quite remedy our situation at this stage of the season.
Leeds United: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Gaetano Berardi, Pontus Jansson, Paudie O’Connor, Stuart Dallas, Kalvin Phillips, Ronaldo Vieria, Samuel Saiz, Pablo Hernandez, Ezgjan Alioski, Pierre-Michel Lasogga
Subs: Andy Lonergan, Vurnon Anita, Tom Pearce, Callum Nicell, Kemar Roofe, Caleb Ekuban, Jay-Roy Grot
Sunderland: Lee Camp, Donald Love, Lamine Kone, Marc Wilson, John O’Shea, Lee Cattermole, Paddy McNair, George Honeyman, Aiden McGeady, Lynden Gooch, Ashley Fletcher
Subs: Jason Steele, Jake Clarke-Salter, Kazenga LuaLua, Callum McManaman, Adam Matthews, Joel Asoro, Ovie Ejaria
Chris Coleman named one change to the side defeated by Sheffield Wendesday on Monday, as Lamine Kone returned from injury and replaced Bryan Oviedo who has just sustained one.
Today’s opponents Leeds United are on a run of form that doesn’t fare much better than ours. The Whites have picked up a mere four points from their last five outings (haven won one, drawn one and lost the other three), which is just one more than ourselves.
The last time Sunderland ran into a side on a comparably bad run was only last Friday, against a Derby County side we thumped 4-1. So, yeah, here’s hoping...
George Honeyman was the first Sunderland player to properly get amongst the action - he was unlucky not to slip Fletcher through on goal and almost immediately afterward picked up a yellow card for a rash challenge on Ezgjan Alioski.
The first real chance of the game came on eighteen minutes when Leeds player Ronaldo Vieria hit the post. The home side passed the ball around Sunderland with relative ease before Vieria eventually let loose a shot - but he was denied by the woodwork as his effort rebounded back out into play.
Lynden Gooch provided Sunderland’s first opportunity when he teed up Paddy McNair but Leeds ‘stopper Bailey Peacock-Farrell managed to fumble the ball out of danger.
Lee Camp was called into action minutes after when Alioski scooped a ball over the Sunderland heads and into the path of an advancing Pablo Hernandez; the on-loan ‘keeper did well to deflect the Spaniard’s effort out of danger as it diverted wide of the far post.
Gooch would soon provide the service for another Sunderland chance - this time by setting up Aiden McGeady. The young US international floated in a cross for the Irishman but the resulting bullet header was caught by Peacock-Farrell.
Ashley Fletcher came the closest of any Sunderland player in the first half, as his header from a corner hit the bar on forty minutes.
Ultimately neither side would find the net in the first half, though. The opening interval ended goalless with both teams missing chances to get their noses in front.
HT: Leeds 0-0 Sunderland
HALF TIME: Leeds 0-0 Sunderland— Roker Report (@RokerReport) April 7, 2018
Not a bad half from Sunderland in fairness after a slow start. Fletcher hitting the post was our best chance. pic.twitter.com/A5y8T2NaIL
Sunderland took the lead after just three minutes played. Gooch flicked the ball on for Donald Love, who chipped it into the path of Paddy McNair - the Northern Irish man capping off a lovely Sunderland move by firing into the roof of the net.
Gooch was at it again as he dropped a shoulder and marauded his way into the box before picking out Honeyman - but the latter was unable to convert. The rebound fell to McGeady but he too was impeded as Leeds got bodies in the way.
On seventy-two minutes, Leeds drew level. Hernandez picked up the ball at the far left of the box and curled an effort beyond Camp and into the back of the net.
Fletcher nearly made an instant reply to get his side back in the game, with a header from point-blanc range, but Peacock-Farrell made an admittedly great reaction save to tip the effort over.
Samuel Saiz nearly broke Sunderland hearts with a free-kick as the game neared it’s end, but his eighty-seventh minute strike rattled the post and bounced away from danger.
An action-packed afternoon at Elland Road would end all-square. Both sides will rue missed opportunities, but it’ll be Chris Coleman’s Sunderland who will rue the most - as this game will leave them dreading whether they just haven’t done enough.
FT: Leeds 1-1 Sunderland (McNair 48’, Hernandez 72’)
Lee Camp, 6/10: Made a good save in each half. Positioning wasn’t great for Hernandez’s goal.
Donald Love, 7/10: His assist for McNair’s goal was sublime, and was generally decent otherwise.
Lamine Kone, 7/10: Solid throughout.
Marc Wilson, 6/10: Decent, but not spectacular.
John O’Shea, 6/10: Performed his fundamental duties well, but wasn’t quick enough in our counter-attacks.
Paddy McNair, 8/10: Great. Marauded the middle of the park all afternoon, took his goal well and was unlucky not to get another.
Lee Cattermole, 6/10: Competent, if unremarkable.
George Honeyman, 5/10: Was okay. Worked hard, as per, but Leeds didn’t have that hard a time dealing with him.
Aiden McGeady, 7/10: Offered plenty of creativity all afternoon.
Lynden Gooch, 8/10: Seemed to orchestrate near enough all of our attacking movements. Caused Leeds all kinds of problems.
Ashley Fletcher, 6/10: Could’ve scored two headers on another afternoon. Was very unlucky today.
(SUB) Ovie Ejaria, 5/10: Not enough time to make an impact.
(SUB) Callum McManaman, 5/10: See above.
(SUB) Kazenga LuaLua, 5/10: Again, see above.
Roker Report’s Man of the Match: Lynden Gooch.