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Finlay’s Report: “Sunderland goalie Jon McLaughlin was class again last night - what a keeper!”

While Sunderland can perhaps feel unlucky after refereeing decisions, an own goal and repeatedly hitting the woodwork went against us, having a ‘keeper of the quality of Jon McLaughlin showed once again last night. He is class!

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland drew 1-1 with Burton Albion at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night, which moved them up to second in the table, but by only one point.

It was a frustrating game for the hosts who fell behind after 19 minutes when Marcus Harness’ shot took a hefty deflection off Tom Flanagan. Then, only eight minutes later, Sunderland levelled through a header from Jack Baldwin.

Then, in the second half, if it wasn’t for the magnificent stops by Jon McLaughlin then Sunderland may have lost the game - but, in the end, the match ended 1-1.

This result meant that Sunderland moved back into the automatic promotion spots, as they are now one point ahead of Barnsley with a game in hand on the Tykes. Also, Sunderland are now three points ahead of Portsmouth, who also have a game in hand on Barnsley, but the Black Cats are seven points behind Luton Town.

Benji Kimpioka was brought on to give Sunderland some impetus in the second half
Sunderland AFC

First Half: Coming From Behind After a Lucky Goal

Sunderland started the game on the front foot and Charlie Wyke - who scored in the 2-1 win of Rochdale on Saturday - had his header clip the top of the crossbar and land onto the roof of the Burton net.

Burton then opened the scoring with 19 minutes on the clock, when McGeouch lost the ball in the centre of the park to Scott Fraser. He passed it to Allen, who then played the ball through to Marcus Harness on the left wing. He cut into the penalty area and just as his shot was looking as if it was going to fly past the right post, it took a massive deflection off Tom Flanagan.

The ball then travelled into the bottom left corner, which left Jon McLaughlin wrong footed.

Sunderland fans are used to their team falling behind in the league this season but they responded well in the 27th minute when they equalised. Another teasing corner from Grant Leadbitter was nodded into the roof of the Burton Albion net by Jack Baldwin.

Then, Sunderland had a really good chance to take the lead when Power’s cross from the right was not cleared by Jake Buxton and it fell into the path to Charlie Wyke. He was six yards out and was one on one with the Burton goalkeeper, but his shot was stopped by Bradley Collins. The half ended with the score level - though Sunderland had reason to feel aggrieved by the fact they weren’t winning the game.

Jack Baldwin’s header got Sunderland back in the game
Sunderland AFC

Second Half: Both Teams Craved the Goalscoring Touch

In the second half, Burton were lucky not to have went in front again when Flanagan lost possession to Liam Boyce in the Sunderland half. The ball eventually found its way through to Harness, who then squared it to the former Ross County striker, but his effort from inside of the penalty area was saved by McLaughlin.

Sunderland had shots of their own when the ball was played over the top of the Burton defence by Grant Leadbitter to Charlie Wyke, but his volley smacked off the crossbar.

Then, the hosts were very unlucky not to have fell behind again by Boyce’s shot was cleared off the line by Jack Baldwin.

After that, Sunderland were close to taking the lead when Grant Leadbitter’s shot from just outside of the penalty area hit off the right post and no one was there to follow the ball up.

Throughout the season, Jon McLaughlin has been hailed by the Sunderland support for his one-on-one saves - and he produced another crucial one when Fraser played the ball through to Marcus Harness, who was away from the Sunderland defence, but a sweeping save from the Scottish keeper kept the scores level and it stayed that way until the full time whistle.

I can’t let the opportunity pass without commenting on the referee. Some of his decisions were absolutely terrible! From the first whistle to the last he gave Burton stupid decisions in their favour, and with some of the them I thought that we were lucky not to have conceded as a result.

With our downfall we have witnessed how performances of referees change from the Premier League to the Championship and then to League One, and I have to say that the man in charge last night was simply terrible.

I hope that between now and the end of the season he doesn’t referee our games again.

Next up, Sunderland face another tricky home match, but this time against Coventry City. Hopefully, Aiden McGeady will be back from his injury that left him out of this game as we were lacking his creative spark in the final third on Tuesday, but fingers crossed we can continue our unbeaten run at the Stadium of Light.