Sunderland continued their scoring streak but couldn’t use it to their advantage as they struggled to find a winner in the 1-1 draw against Charlton Athletic at the Valley.
Luke O’Nien’s strike with two minutes on the clock meant that Sunderland lead for 48 minutes until Lyle Taylor’s effort deflected in off Reece James to level proceedings.
Before the game, all of the talk was surrounded on one thing - the contract of Josh Maja and whether to play him against the Addicks. The speculation started when a comment by Stewart Donald on social media said that on Thursday, Maja would have signed the contract, but the following day, his agent told Sky TV that Maja wasn’t going to sign. Sky then spoke to Donald, who downplayed the news, but then a meeting with Sunderland’s top scorer confirmed what Sky told the Sunderland owner.
Personally, I would have played Maja as he is still under contract and I thought the game against Blackpool was one of his best. What will happen this week, can’t be written but more will be known when Donald speaks to the Roker Rapport Podcast on Monday.
In the match itself, Jack Ross made one forced change, with Dylan McGeouch coming into the side in the place of the suspended Lee Cattermole, who picked up his 10th yellow card against Blackpool. The gaffer fielded only six substitutes with Bryan Oviedo picking up a late injury in the day before the game. Josh Maja kept his place up top with Charlie Wyke.
Sunderland took the lead in the second minute when Reece James’ cross found Luke O’Nien, who was unmarked at the back post. He superbly side-footed the ball on the volley into the top left corner - his fourth goal of the season, sending over 3,000 Sunderland fans at the Valley into delirium.
In the first 45 we were in control and should have been two-up when Gooch’s shot hit off the bar, and the rebound hit off the head of Charlie Wyke but away from danger.
In my opinion, Charlie Wyke has looked like a different player since coming back from his injury and has shown the aerial ability that we were lacking when he was out.
Five minutes after the interval, Charlton got back into the game when Lyle Taylor turned his man inside the penalty area and the ball was looking like it was going wide but at the front Post, Reece James stuck out a leg, and the ball beat Jon McLaughlin.
After this, Charlton looked like they were going to take the three points, getting themselves into brilliant positions without the ability to supply the finishing touch.
Sunderland should have taken all three points when Max Power’s cross was hit first time by Duncan Watmore, but it flew over the bar. That was the last chance of the match and the game ended Charlton Athletic 1-1 Sunderland AFC.
Next up, we face one of the biggest home matches of our season when Luton come to town in second place. Hopefully the situation with Josh Maja is resolved by then and it is a positive outcome.