Sunderland earned a crucial point in the race for promotion in Sky Bet League One as they drew 0-0 against Barnsley at Oakwell.
Despite not scoring in a league match for the first time this season, the majority of the Sunderland fans were happy with the result as the gap between 2nd and 3rd doesn’t increase and it leaves Sunderland in a decent position to claim automatic promotion with a game in hand on Barnsley and Luton.
Barnsley were the better side in the first half, but were unfortunate not to have taken the lead when Mamadou Thiam’s shot from inside the penalty area smashed off the crossbar. That said, I’ve got to give Sunderland credit as they held out despite all of the pressure applied by their opponents.
An early chance from Max Power in the second half set alarm bells ringing throughout the Barnsley side as the midfielder’s shot was arrowed just wide of the left post.
Cauley Woodrow had a goal ruled out for offside in the second half after he headed the ball into the back of the net from an offside position inside the six yard box.
Sunderland are still four points adrift of Barnsley with a game in hand and are now nine points away from leaders Luton. The gap between Sunderland and Portsmouth has decreased to two points after they won 3-2 against Walsall, Sunderland’s next opponents.
Jack Ross made a number of changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Wycombe. Reece James and Tom Flanagan picked up injuries in that game and missed out on the opportunity to face the Tykes. Adam Matthews and Jack Baldwin replaced them in defence, while Luke O’Nien and Jimmy Dunne kept their places. Towards the end of that match in Wycombe, George Honeyman was shown a red card following a touchline melee, so Max Power took his place. Also, Lewis Morgan dropped to the bench, with Lynden Gooch starting the match in his place.
Although Sunderland had more possession in the opening 45, Barnsley were much the better side, creating nine opportunities to Sunderland’s one. Sunderland’s chance came when Max Power’s shot from outside of the penalty area was parried away by a diving Adam Davies. Barnsley’s best chance came in the 37th minute when Mamadou Thiam’s shot hammered the crossbar from inside the penalty area. The wind played a dramatic part in the way that the game went, and things only looked to get worse as the match progressed.
A positive for Sunderland to take from from the opening 45 minutes was that they kept a clean sheet despite all of Barnsley’s pressure, especially towards the end of the first period.
After the interval, Sunderland had a brilliant chance to take the lead when Max Power was played through on goal and got in front of the Barnsley defender, Ethan Pinnock. The Tykes’ goalkeeper rushed off his line and Power poked his shot wide of the left post.
Later on in the second 45, Barnsley had a goal ruled out for offside when a cross into the penalty from the hosts was nodded into the back of the net by Cauley Woodrow, but the striker was in an offside position.
No team was able to find a winner and they settled for a point as the match ended Barnsley 0-0 Sunderland.
Next up the Lads play their last league match until the Checkatrade Trophy final when they take on Walsall at the Stadium of Light. Although Jack Baldwin played superbly throughout the match, I expect Tom Flanagan to come back into the side if he is available. Hopefully we can keep up the pace set by both Luton and Barnsley with another victory on home soil.