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Finlay’s Report: Has Benji Kimpioka earned himself a place in Sunderland’s starting XI?

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Phil Parkinson’s decision to utilise the pace of Duncan Watmore and Benji Kimpioka saved Sunderland’s blushes against Coventry. Should the Sunderland boss put his faith in the two energetic wide men?

Sunderland v Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Dave Howarth/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

The Team...

Phil Parkinson made four changes to the starting 11, after Sunderland’s 1-0 defeat against Gillingham in extra time in a replay in the first round of the FA Cup on Tuesday night.

Parkinson switched back to playing four at the back, with Jordan Willis and Joel Lynch coming back into the side. Laurens de Bock dropped to the bench, with George Dobson fit enough to start, alongside Max Power and Grant Leadbitter.

Aiden McGeady came on at the Priestfield, and began the match, with Duncan Watmore dropping to the sidelines.

Sunderland v Coventry City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

First Half Action

The away side started the match stronger, but it was the hosts that had the first opportunity. Chris Maguire’s free kick from over 25 yards out was whipped over the top of the Coventry crossbar.

Not long after this, Sunderland’s keeper had to produce a vital stop to keep the game level, when Liam Kelly’s long range effort was magnificently palmed away by the glove of Lee Burge - the former Coventry man.

Chances came thick and fast for the Sky Blues and Sunderland’s sloppy passing gifted them clear-cut opportunities. Maguire’s back-pass found Amadou Bakayoko, who was chasing down this loose pass. The Coventry striker controlled the ball and was in behind and one-on-one with Lee Burge. His effort was clipped wide via the right boot of the Sunderland goalkeeper.

From the resulting corner, Coventry took the lead, when Sunderland were unable to clear their lines. Westbrooke chipped the ball in to the back post, where it was headed back across goal, dropping for Hyam, who nodded the ball in.

Mark Robins’ Sky Blues should have doubled their lead moments before the half time interval. McGeady gifted the ball away inside of his own 18-yard box to the blue shirt. It eventually dropped for Bakayoko, who was unable to profit from a Sunderland mistake.

Sunderland v Coventry City - Sky Bet Championship -Stadium of Light Photo by Dave Howarth/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Second Half Action

Coventry arguably began the second half the better side and Lee Burge was given an easy stop to make when Zain Westbrooke’s shot fell straight into the gloves of the Sunderland shot-stopper.

With just after an hour gone, Phil Parkinson made his first change of the match, bringing on Duncan Watmore for Max Power, with Chris Maguire being pushed further forward alongside Will Grigg.

Aiden McGeady tested the goalkeeper for the first time, midway through the second half when he dribbled the ball forward, and his opportunity from just outside the penalty area was tipped away by Marko Marosi.

Sunderland had an appeal for a penalty when Maguire’s corner from the right bounced up and struck the arm of Jordan Shipley, but the referee waved away these complaints.

Phil Parkinson decided to bring on youth and pace, instead of experience, when he brought on Benji Kimpioka for Will Grigg up top.

The introduction of both Duncan Watmore and BenjiKimpioka sparked some pace into the Black Cats, and Watmore almost equalised when his weak shot deflected wide of the right post.

With the dying seconds of the 90 remaining, Benji Kimpioka made the lower tier of the Stadium of Light rise by equalising. Coventry were unable to clear the ball inside of the penalty area, and it fell for Watmore, who left it for Leadbitter. The Sunderland skipper calmly tapped the ball to Kimpioka, who confidently fired it into the bottom right corner.

After four extra minutes of additional time, that Benji Kimpioka goal was enough to earn the Black Cats a point, as the match ended Sunderland 1-1 Coventry.