Sunderland rescued a late point tonight against ten man Fulham with an important goal from hard working forward Lee Connelly.
A relatively uneventful start to the half led to Sunderland slacking off midway through the first period.
With an inswinging corner approaching him, Max Stryjek failed to meet the ball and left his goal exposed - and Fulham took full advantage, scoring with their first real effort on target.
Sunderland upped their tempo, and right at the end of the half were rewarded. Finding himself one on one with the keeper, Magnus Norman, Benji Kimpioka shot - and the Fulham stopper saved it outside of the box, resulting in the ref giving him a red card.
The Lads followed that up with a free kick which wasn’t pretty, but a rebounded strike deflected and almost made it into the bottom corner, which was ultimately saved by the fingertips of sub keeper George Wickens.
Having to play the second 45 against ten men when they were 1-0 down was going to be tough - and with Fulham coming out organised and rigid, the Lads struggled to break their opposition down.
As such, Elliott Dickman made a double change on the hour - introducing Williams Kokolo and the returning Owen Gamble in a bid to offer his side more width.
Despite their persistence it wasn’t easy for the Lads to carve an opening, though a teasing cross from Lee Connelly with 25 left to play probably should have resulted in a shot on goal.
Then, with 5 left to play, Connelly was rewarded for his workrate. After a corner was fired in, the ball fell to the Scotsman on the far side of the box, and he controlled nicely before hammering the ball past the keeper to level the score.
Right at the death Sunderland had a penalty decision go against them after Connelly was brought down inside the area - he was perhaps unlucky not to get the chance to score the winner.
The game finished 1-1 - a fair result all things considered.
Max Stryjek, 5/10: Regardless of how he played in the remainder of the game, he was ultimatelynat fault for Fulham’s opener by overcommitting to the cross which he failed to meet.
Kane Evans, 5/10: Sadly, Santos Clase was not kind to him this year and had him on toast. Bad day for the youngster.
Jordan Hunter, 6/10: Not as busy as his teammate on the other side, but still not totally sure what he offers this side.
Daniel Neil, 5/10: Quiet evening for the midfielder, who struggled to mix it up against the bigger and quicker Fulham lads in the middle.
Brandon Taylor, 6/10: Steady, yet unspectacular performance.
Jack Bainbridge, 7/10: Played out from the back and fairly steady in the air too. Has a bit of something about him.
Bali Mumba, 5/10: Ineffective and easily overran. Not sure playing as a ten suits his best capabilities.
Jack Connolly, 5/10: Can’t say I really noticed him.
Benji Kimpioka, 5/10: Just didn’t lead the line well. Fulham’s centre backs were huge and battered him in the air.
Jake Hackett, 6/10: Tidy and industrious.
Lee Connelly, 8/10: Worked his socks and produced the pass which led to Fulham’s keeper being sent off, as well as the equalising goal.
(SUB) Williams Kokolo, 6/10: Replaced Kane Evans for the final half an hour. Offered us more athleticism down the flank.
(SUB) Owen Gamble, 6/10: Good to see him back after a lengthy layoff - the U23s captain may have had opportunities in the first team in the EFL Trophy had he been fit.
Man of the Match: Lee Connelly