Sunderland escaped from Charlton with a point this afternoon in a game that really could have gone either way had someone taken their chances - but a point is a decent result, and it moves us within a point of the automatic promotion places with a game in hand still to play.
An early volley from Luke O’Nien gave the Lads the lead before a Lyle Taylor shot which deflected past Jon McLaughlin off Reece James put the home side back level.
Both sides spurned a number of good chances and failed to take advantage of lapses in concentration from their opponents, so it’s probably reasonable to concede that a draw was a fair result all things considered.
Charlton: Dillon Phillips, Anfernee Dijksteel, Krystian Bielik, Patrick Bauer, Lyle Taylor, Tarique Fosu, Darren Pratley, Karlan Grant, Albie Morgan, Chris Solly (c), Naby Sarr
Subs: Ashley Maynard-Brewer, Mark Marshall, Billy Clarke, Jonny Williams, Nicky Ajose, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild, Toby Stevenson
Sunderland: Jon McLaughlin, Reece James, Jack Baldwin, Tom Flanagan, Luke O’Nien, Max Power, Dylan McGeouch, Lynden Gooch, Aiden McGeady (c), Josh Maja, Charlie Wyke
Subs: Robbin Ruiter, Chris Maguire, Alim Ozturk, Bali Mumba, Duncan Watmore, Jerome Sinclair
This afternoon’s encounter at the valley got off to a dream start for the Lads. Some trickery from Lynden Gooch paved the way for Reece James to arch a cross over the goalmouth and into the path of Luke O’Nien, who hit the ball home on the volley to give Sunderland a nil-one lead on two minutes.
By no means did that opening goal betray the Black Cats’ first half performance; Sunderland were very much the dominant outfit during the opening exchanges.
Aiden McGeady in particular seemed to pull a lot of strings as Charlton afforded him a very generous amount of space for him to maraud and shoot - the pick of his efforts sailed narrowly over the bar, though.
Charlie Wyke was excellent off the ball, as he won the ball back from advancing Charlton players on numerous occasions, but was found wanting in front of goal. He had a couple of substantial opportunities from through balls with a ‘keeper and two distant defenders to contend with, but both times he was unable to convert.
Gooch had a golden opportunity to double the Lads’ advantage when he drifted into the box via a sequence of stepovers before striking from where goalscorer O’Nien once stood - the only difference being that the Californian’s shot thundered off the underside of the bar and was met by the brow of Wyke, who again couldn’t find the mark.
Charlton began to see more of the ball as the first off wore on, but ultimately weren’t able to create any real goal-scoring opportunities with it. The first half ended with Sunderland a goal to the good.
HT: Charlton 0-1 Sunderland (O’Nien 2’)
Just as the first half began in ideal fashion, the second half began the opposite. Lyle Taylor’s cross might’ve been intercepted by James, but the left-back caught the ball at an unfortunately awkward angle and it deflected skyward into the net to level the scoreline.
The sides present at the end of the first half were scarily different to the ones which emerged for the second. It seemed as though Charlton were attacking at every opportunity - the aforementioned Taylor being the focal point of the more dangerous offensives - leaving Sunderland with their backs pinned to the wall.
The best (or, rather, the worst) chance from the opposition came when Taylor brought the ball down in the box with a deadly first touch before moving free of his markers and shooting. Mercifully, Jon McLaughlin was quick off his line and produced a brilliant save to take the momentum off the shot.
Sunderland were then left to count their blessings again as an unmarked Karlan Grant met a cross and effectively missed an open goal from only a few yards out.
Come the last ten minutes, however, the Lads began to show the type of movement they flaunted in the first forty-five. Substitute Duncan Watmore did well to beat his man and get into the box, but opted to shoot from a tight angle when he could’ve passed - he then had another opportunity from the same angle but, despite beating the ‘keeper this time, the effort was headed off the line.
Both sides will come away from today’s game thinking that, had they not squandered one opportunity here or there, they could’ve secured a vital three points in the League One promotion push.
FT: Charlton 1-1 Sunderland (O’Nien 2’, James OG
Jon McLaughlin, 8/10: Produced a tremendous save to prevent Taylor from putting his side ahead.
Reece James, 5/10: Created our opener but was wasteful on the ball and unfortunately conceded the own goal which levelled the two teams.
Jack Baldwin, 7/10: Could’ve dealt with Taylor better as he ran into the box before hitting the ball off James, but was solid and assured otherwise.
Tom Flanagan, 7/10: Strong in the tackle and prominent in the air. Has overtaken Baldwin as our best centre-back in my opinion.
Luke O’Nien, 8/10: Netted a lovely volley on two minutes and was industrious throughout.
Max Power, 6/10: Alright. A respectable showing from him.
Dylan McGeouch, 7/10: Was never instrumental to our offensives but he kept things ticking over behind the scenes. An underrated performance by all accounts.
Lynden Gooch, 5/10: Did well in the build up to our goal but... gah, he was so wasteful on the ball in the second half!
Aiden McGeady, 6/10: Took full advantage of the space Charlton allowed him to have but ultimately the final product wasn’t quite there.
Josh Maja, 6/10: You came off and sat on the bench towards the end of today’s game. Would you like to remain there for the remainder of the season? Well, don’t join [insert struggling Premier League team] in that case. Sign your contract here, lad.
Charlie Wyke, 6/10: Was a lot better off the ball than he was on it.
(SUB) Duncan Watmore, 5/10: Had three very decent opportunities which went begging.
(SUB) Chris Maguire, 6/10: Gave us the energy we needed to run at a fatigued Charlton.
Man of the Match: Luke O’Nien
Attendance: 16,317 (3,125 away fans)