Sunderland have finally scored more than once in a league match after a ten-game run where we weren’t able to do so, but the lads couldn’t claim all three points as they came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Accrington Stanley on Friday night.
For a team that hadn’t scored in League One since Boxing Day, Stanley were quick out of the blocks and frustrated Sunderland in the early periods and when the referee, Darren Drysdale, pointed to the spot just before the half an hour mark - and they were looking to score their first goal in 2019.
They successfully did so when Billy Kee converted the penalty to score his tenth goal of the season.
In the second half, things got better for John Coleman’s side as after 52 minutes, Paul Smyth - arguably the best player on the pitch - nodded the 2017-18 League Two champions into a two-goal lead. Sunderland weren’t going to go down and out without a fight though as only three minutes later, George Honeyman reduced the gap to only one goal. Then, seven minutes later, it was two-all as Aiden McGeady scored his eighth of the campaign. After that, Sunderland looked the better side but were unable to find a winner to make it a magnificent comeback.
The gaffer was forced into one change to the side that drew 1-1 with Blackpool in mid-week, as Duncan Watmore was ruled out of the game as he is recovering from his ACL injury. So, Charlie Wyke replaced him up top and made sure that Ross played two up front in front of the boisterous home crowd.
Stanley were given a penalty when Paul Smyth, the QPR loanee, was hacked to the ground by Jack Baldwin and the referee pointed to the spot. The big chance came for Billy Kee to score in front of just under 29,000 and give Accrington Stanley the lead at the Stadium of Light - he stepped up and hammered the ball above a diving Jon McLaughlin, who couldn’t reach it.
On his return to the side, Charlie Wyke was looking to make an impact and almost did when O’Nien’s cross was diverted wide by the former Bradford forward, who didn’t put enough on the ball to fit it into the bottom corner.
The travelling Stanley fans were in dreamland when Paul Smyth was able to run freely inside the six yard box and nod the ball into the bottom left corner from a Sean McConville cross.
The instrumental difference came when Jack Ross brought on Chris Maguire as he changed the game for the better - I can’t understand why he didn’t start the match.
Can't believe that this was five years ago today, @Tweed_Barnesy, @benno_4 and @vksparks made it a brilliant experience and it was the start of many opportunities for me in sports journalism. pic.twitter.com/DTqK3n3q1i— Finlay Anderson (@safcfinlay) February 14, 2019
Stanley fans should have known that it wasn’t going to be that easy as three minutes later, George Honeyman arrowed the ball into the roof of the net after good work from both Chris Maguire and Will Grigg.
Then, with 67 minutes on the clock, Aiden McGeady levelled the match up after playing a one-two with Chris Maguire and fired the ball into the bottom left corner of the Accrington Stanley net.
No team was able to score a winning goal so the match ended Sunderland AFC 2-2 Accrington Stanley.
Like many of the Sunderland fans, I am sick of teams coming to the Stadium of Light taking the lead and time-wasting. The amount of time-wasting I have seen at the Stadium of Light and going unpunished by the referees is a disgrace. On Friday, it was the same, at 2-0, 2-1 and 2-2, Stanley were trying their very best to time-waste. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by the EFL.
Next up, we face Gillingham in another home match and we need to win this as we are losing our grip at the top of League One and with other top teams playing at the same time, we need to gain some ground on Luton.