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Finlay’s Report: recap the action as Sunderland and Hull share the spoils

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“Is the transitioning period over for Lee Johnson and what excuses can there be for Sunderland’s 1-1 draw against Hull City?” asks Finlay Anderson.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland failed to deliver on Saturday evening live on Sky Sports, as they were only able to claim a point against Grant McCann’s Hull City at the Stadium of Light.

Lee Burge was at fault for the opening goal, spilling a Honeyman free-kick to the feet of Reece Burke who was able to poke home from only a couple of yards out. It was only a matter of time before Sunderland brought themselves level with an Aiden McGeady header, but neither side was able to snatch the three points.


Team Selection

Lee Johnson made one change to the side that drew 0-0 against Northampton Town, with with Callum McFadzean replacing Tom Flanagan in defence. Charlie Wyke led the line, alongside Jack Diamond and Aiden McGeady for another game, whilst the midfield three of Power, Leadbitter and Scowen remained the same.

There was a spot for youngster Ollie Younger on the Sunderland bench, with both sides conscious of the rule change this season allowing five substitutions.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet League One
Lee Johnson
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

First Half

Within a couple of minutes, there was a lengthy stoppage at the Stadium of Light, after Lee Burge was caught by Malik Wilks on the eye, with the Sunderland medical team assessing the situation, but deeming that he could carry on in between the sticks.

That injury possibly contributed to Hull’s first goal of the match, when an error from Lee Burge resulted in the Tigers taking the lead. Honeyman’s cross from the right wasn’t held by the Sunderland goalkeeper, and Reece Burke poked the ball into the empty net.

Despite Hull piling the pressure onto the Black Cats after that goal, Sunderland found a route back into the match when Aiden McGeady netted his first goal since his return to the side. Diamond lobbed the ball to the back post from the by-line inside of the penalty area, and McGeady rose the highest and guided it into the bottom right corner.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet League One
Aiden McGeady heads home for Sunderland to make it all square against Hull City at the Stadium of Light
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

The away side were very close to retaking the lead when Wilks delivered the ball into the penalty area, where Tom Eaves was sprinting in and was unmarked. Eaves’ header was bulleted off the crossbar and bounced away from danger.

It was Hull who came the closest not long after when Tom Eaves had another golden opportunity when Eaves evaded the Sunderland defence again, as he was allowed a free-header at the back post, but it was well kept out of the net by Lee Burge.

The referee made a controversial call when a goal-kick allowed Jack Diamond in behind the Hull defensive line, but he was shoved over by the Hull goalkeeper, George Long, just outside of the penalty area, but the referee allowed play to continue.

After seven minutes of additional time due to both injuries to Lee Burge and Tom Eaves, no side was able to convert their possession into goals during that period.

Half Time - Sunderland AFC 1 - 1 Hull City

Sunderland v Mansfield Town: Emirates FA Cup First Round
Remi Matthews replaced the injured Lee Burge in goal for Sunderland at half-time against Hull City
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Second Half

At half-time, Lee Johnson made a double change with Lee Burge unable to carry on Remi Matthews came out for the second half, whilst Lynden Gooch replaced Conor McLaughlin which saw Max Power switch to right-back.

Sunderland probably should have taken the one-goal advantage when Power’s cross was fizzed across the face of goal and Wyke was inches away from giving the Black Cats the lead, but his connection was diverted over the bar.

Hull always looked a threat on the counter attack with their pace, and when the clock hit the hour mark, Honeyman’s header was directed straight into the gloves of the Remi Matthews.

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet League One
Jack Diamond attacks for Sunderland against Hull City
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Jack Diamond forced the Hull City goalkeeper into action with just over twenty minutes remaining when his chip looked like it was going to dip under the crossbar, but George Long tipped the ball over the bar.

With 76 minutes on the clock, Lee Johnson made all of his remaining three substitutions in a triple substitution. Chris Maguire, Elliot Embleton and Danny Graham all entered the fray in place of Jack Diamond, Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke.

Despite the lengthy time period between these substitutions and the full time whistle, no side was really able to muster another opening, with both Sunderland and Hull City taking away a point from the Stadium of Light.

Full Time - Sunderland AFC 1 - 1 Hull City

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Finlay’s Verdict

It is remarkable about how much can change within a couple of months.

Saturday marked Sunderland’s second match against Hull City, so far this season; the first coming in the EFL Cup when the Tigers won a penalty shoot-out to move into the second round.

When Sunderland played Hull in the EFL Cup, it was their first match since the first COVID-19 lockdown and it looked like the EFL had a plan that they could deal with any COVID-19 cases within any of the three leagues.

It was destined that the pandemic would be over just after the new year, but in the new year, we are set for another couple of months in a severe lockdown, with the football one of the only times of relief and satisfaction from the torrid times that lie outside our doors.

But, is the football Sunderland are producing providing excitement, or is it just heaping more stress onto a really tough time?

Northampton Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Sunderland manager Lee Johnson
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

it is now over a month that Lee Johnson has been appointed, so is his transitioning period now over and with one win in five League One matches, is the time for excuses over and we now have to deal with the fact that there are some issues that are at the heart of the footballing is worrying.

With a change in managers from Parkinson to Johnson, it seems like the issues that Parkinson had, e.g. the lack of an attacking threat - is still the main priority that Johnson is trying to handle.

Saturday night’s draw against Hull brought forward issues that we are now in the process of battling, and with the transfer window now open, Johnson will have to do more digging to find players that will fit appropriately into his squad.

There were aspects that Johnson should reflect on the Hull side that he should try and mirror with his squad.

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet League One
Will the likes of Danny Graham come back into the side to face Port Vale in the Papa John’s Trophy?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

The pace up front from Malik Wilks provided issues for the Sunderland backline and the bulky striker of Tom Eaves evaded both Wright and Sanderson, and should have cost Sunderland more than they actually did.

Sunderland move onto their next match on Tuesday night when Port Vale travel to the Stadium of Light - hoping to progress through to the quarter finals of the Papa John’s Trophy.

As with any EFL Trophy match, fans will be expecting many changes to the side that played on Saturday, with extra match minutes to the likes of Danny Graham, Aiden O’Brien and Elliot Embleton, but a strong side to begin some momentum heading into Saturday’s match against AFC Wimbledon.

A quarter-final place in the EFL Trophy could start to cover some early issues that Lee Johnson has to deal with, but these issues will not go away in the blink of an eye.