Sunderland managed to nab a point in what was an entertaining affair down at Wycombe thanks to a Duncan Watmore goal, in a game that saw captain George Honeyman sent off when he was on the bench due to his part in a fracas between both sets of benched players and coaching staff.
The Lads struggled in the opening exchanges as a combination of sloppy play and an overtly physical Wycombe side prevented Ross’ men from asserting control over the game. Twice in the opening fifteen minutes poor defending presented Wycombe a chance to strike - thankfully both efforts were poor.
Sunderland continued to struggle against Wycombe’s direct, physical style of play. Wycombe pressed high and when in possession looked to get the ball quickly in behind Sunderland’s sluggish defence, or into the box. Sunderland had no answer.
Wycombe then took the lead in the 35th minute as incredibly poor defending from Sunderland allowed Wycombe to break in the Sunderland half. There, they moved the ball will purpose and a pass across goal from Cowan-Hall found Samuel who tucked the ball away with total ease. Sunderland’s poor play had been punished.
Within the first five minutes of the second half, Sunderland hit the bar after a brilliant free-kick from Leadbitter found Tom Flanagan - unfortunately his header crashed against the Wycombe woodwork.
Moments later and it was Wycombe back in the ascendancy as a host of corners and half-chances kept Sunderland on the back foot; Wycombe frustrated they couldn’t find what seemed like a certain second.
A nasty knock to the head forced George Honeyman off the pitch, Duncan Watmore his replacement. Lynden Gooch soon replaced Morgan thereafter as Sunderland continued to struggle - only a good save from Jon McLaughlin prevented Wycombe from grabbing a second.
Against the run of play, Sunderland almost bagged an equalizer after a brilliant Leadbitter corner. Jimmy Dunne got the flick, but Wycombe’s keeper produced a brilliant save to keep his side ahead. Tom Flanagan then required serious medical attention after taking a boot to the head - Sunderland’s second head-related casualty of the day leaving ten men on the field.
Ross and the Sunderland bench were not impressed with what was an incredibly poor level of officiating throughout. Wycombe’s abrasive style of player had prevented Sunderland from playing their game, and Ross clearly felt the officials’ ineptitude was putting his players at risk.
Things changed in the final moments of injury time, though! A long shot from Leadbitter was parried as far as Watmore who slammed home a late equalizer with but a few minutes left to play. Undeserved? Maybe. But Sunderland weren’t complaining.
Chaos engulfed the final moments as tensions frayed on the touchline. George Honeyman and a Wycombe player were both sent off after a clash before Wycombe’s number 8 picked up a second yellow for an awful challenge on Duncan Watmore.
Jon McLaughlin, 6/10: Produced a couple of good saves, but also looked suspect under the high ball. Kicking was also poor at times.
Luke O’Nien, 4/10: Struggled to emulate recent performances, but wasn’t helped by his teammates.
Tom Flanagan, 4/10: Aimless long balls throughout, and struggled at times with Samuel’s tenacity.
Jimmy Dunne, 4/10: Struggled much like Flanagan. They both had good chances to equalize, too.
Reece James, 3/10: Didn’t even realize he was playing.
Lee Cattermole, 5/10: Got stuck in and tried desperately to get his men motivated once Honeyman went off. Sluggish at times, though.
Grant Leadbitter, 5/10: Like Cattermole, he struggled to affect the game. Did produce the shot that led to Watmore’s goal, and his set-piece delivery was good.
Lewis Morgan, 4/10: Rather ineffectual. Dribbled well initially, but his distribution was poor throughout.
George Honeyman, 5/10: Bumped up a point for trying to take on the entire Wycombe bench after going off with a head injury. Silly red means he’ll miss a few games, but he stood up for his men as Wycombe’s physicality became dangerous.
Aiden McGeady, 4/10: Bar a few nice touches and pieces of skill, it was just not his day today.
Will Grigg, 4/10: Didn’t do much at all. Can’t blame him entirely as his service was shocking.
(SUB) Adam Matthews, 5/10: On at half time for Reece James. Couple of weak passes, but more solid than James.
(SUB) Duncan Watmore, 7/10: On for Honeyman who took a nasty knock to the head, and whilst his performance was slightly underwhelming he managed to grab that hugely important goal.
(SUB) Lynden Gooch, 5/10: Tried to get the lads moving with urgency. Struggled to really get involved, though.
Man of the Match: Duncan Watmore