Sunderland were left to rue missed chances as they played out a stalemate against Charlton Athletic at The Valley on Saturday afternoon. The Black Cats dominated the proceedings, but a late red card for Tom Flanagan for a professional foul meant that Sunderland had to play out the final 20 minutes with only ten men.
Phil Parkinson named two changes to the side that claimed their first home league win of the season against Peterborough last Saturday. The rotation up top continued as Danny Graham began his second game of the season, ahead of Charlie Wyke and Will Grigg. Chris Maguire was unavailable to travel with the squad, meaning that Aiden O’Brien took his place in attack. Also, Max Power returned to the squad after missing out last weekend, but he only had a place on the bench, with Bailey Wright taking the captain’s armband.
First Half Action
Most of the opening 20 minutes was spent within the Charlton half, but Sunderland weren’t creating many chances. Danny Graham had the best chance of that period when O’Nien’s cross dropped to him a couple of yards out, but he couldn’t fire the ball past Ben Amos, who did enough to clear.
The Black Cats thought that they had taken the lead with around 30 minutes on the clock when Bailey Wright’s header from Scowen’s corner was pushed away from goal by the Charlton goalkeeper.
If Sunderland weren’t ahead from Wright’s header, they definitely should have been with 35 minutes gone when O’Brien’s shot was punched away by Ben Amos, but dropped to Graham, whose first and second attempt from point-blank range was blocked by Charlton players.
Chances after chances were falling to the Black Cats and Phil Parkinson wouldn’t know how his side were still goalless, when Scowen’s low fizzing cross into the penalty area missed O’Brien, but Graham had an easy low side-foot into the bottom left corner, but his connection forced the ball to arrow over the bar.
After one minute of additional time was up at the end of the first half, the opening 45 minutes ended Charlton Athletic 0-0 Sunderland AFC.
Second Half Action
Charlton brought on former Sunderland man, Jonny Williams, at half time and switched their formation - applying more pressure onto the Sunderland backline, but the visitors always posed a threat. Gooch produced one of Sunderland’s first attempts of the second 45, but his shot was aimed just over the bar.
With 65 minutes on the clock, Phil Parkinson made a double substitution by bringing on two strikers in Will Grigg and Charlie Wyke, who replaced both Danny Graham and Aiden O’Brien.
The Black Cats had dominated the whole game, but their attempts of claiming the three points were made tougher, when they were brought down to ten men. Tom Flanagan was shown a red card when Ben Amos’ kick up-field was flicked on to Conor Washington, who touched the ball around Flanagan. The Sunderland defender had no choice but to hack him to the ground, leaving Sunderland down to ten men for the final 20 minutes.
Despite being a man down, the visitors still pushed for the opening goal, when Hume’s cutback from the by-line found Wyke, but he was unable to flick the ball on target, as it rolled wide.
When the referee blew the full time whistle after five minutes of injury time to end the game, the match ended Charlton Athletic 0-0 Sunderland AFC.
The juxtaposition between Sunderland’s 2-1 play-off final defeat in 2019 to Charlton and Saturday’s goalless draw against Lee Bowyer’s side was clear.
In the devastating final defeat, Sunderland lacked an attacking threat and cutting edge that would have bounced them straight back into the Championship. Meanwhile, on Saturday, the Black Cats had numerous amount of chances and should have claimed three points.
Before kick-off, some Sunderland fans would have said that a draw against a recently-relegated Charlton Athletic would be a good result for the Black Cats; their unbeaten run would have continued, and they are picking up points against promotion rivals.
Now, after the match, things have been turned on their head as the Black Cats’ pressure in the first half should have put them one or two-nil up, but the lack of a goal scoring touch meant that the ball wasn’t able to pass Ben Amos. So, have the Black Cats dropped two points?
On the other hand, with Tom Flanagan being dismissed for a professional foul and the Black Cats having to defend well for the final 20 minutes, do you see Sunderland’s goalless draw against the Addicks as one point gained?
Regarding Flanagan’s red card, a majority of Sunderland fans may believe that it was a wise move from the defender, whilst others may think that it will have a damning impact on the squad.
To block Charlton from potentially taking the lead and gaining three points, it seems a perceptive and intelligent move, as one point is much better than nothing.
Meanwhile, over the past four league matches, we have only conceded one goal, and even that came from a penalty, which was gifted to Bristol Rovers in the opening game. So, removing one of the defenders from the solid unit that has been built over the past couple of weeks, may have a condemning effect onto the team.
Next up, Sunderland continue their EFL Trophy campaign as they face League Two opposition, Carlisle United, on Tuesday night. As always with EFL Trophy matches, the side is likely to have a number of changes, with some youngsters, including Jack Diamond and Dan Neil, expected to start for me. The EFL Trophy is not our priority this season, but a win will continue the momentum that has been built up, so hopefully we can go into the international break with a victory.