Sunderland continued their attempt to race towards the automatic promotion places with a tough game against Lincoln City. The Imps were just behind Sunderland in the league standings coming into the game and it would prove to be a challenging fixture on the day.
The Black Cats were incredibly ruthless in the reverse fixture earlier in the 20/21 campaign, where they came out on top with a convincing 4-0 victory at Sincil Bank. More recently, it was a much tighter contest in the semi-finals of the EFL Trophy; where Sunderland did progress but only via the fine margins of a penalty-shootout. This game was arguably much more important.
Jordan Jones was still yet to return to the match day squad due to an injury he sustained a couple weeks earlier. Lee Johnson confirmed that Denver Hume and Bailey Wright weren’t a million miles from returning although this particular game arrived just too soon for them to feature.
Johnson opted for two changes from the side that beat Accrington Stanley 2-0 on Wednesday evening. This saw Callum McFadzean and Grant Leadbitter come into the starting lineup, with Jake Vokins and Jack Diamond both making way. The latter would be an unused substitute; the former failed to make the bench.
The visitors also made two changes from their previous League One encounter with Gillingham, which they lost 3-0. Cohen Bramall and Callum Morton both came into the side, with other key names including Brennan Johnson and Manchester City loanee Morgan Rogers. Another stand out name was former Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt, who would be hoping to control the game.
The game got underway at the Stadium Of Light, a massive 90 minutes for both camps. Sunderland’s best efforts arrived from the two men who Lee Johnson had brought into the side, Leadbitter and McFadzean. The visitors created an excellent opening after 22 minutes when Luke O’Nien was caught in possession. Regan Poole charged into the penalty area and forced a good save from Lee Burge to keep the score level. At the other end though, Sunderland carved out the opening goal. Max Power delivered a dangerous ball into the box, which was met by full-back Callum McFadzean, an unlikely hero. This meant that Sunderland went in one goal to the good at the break.
Following the restart, the game struggled to get going immediately. Moments after Aiden McGeady’s powerful free kick attempt stung the hands of Palmer, Lincoln found themselves an equaliser. This was courtesy of some tremendous ball control from Callum Morton, who remained calm before firing home. Lincoln’s confidence continued to grow and if it hadn’t have been for some Lee Burge heroics, they would have taken the lead. He did superbly to prevent Cohen Bramall’s sharp strike from firing into the back of the net. Both teams were keen to take the lead and Chris Maguire was inches from doing so upon his introduction. His deflected effort dropped just wide of the post. Lincoln kept searching for another goal but the game ended all square on Wearside.
From a positive perspective, this game could be considered as one point closer to our main target; promotion. With that being said, having taken the lead we could really have put the game to bed had we performed well enough. Lincoln have proved themselves as a strong side and they will definitely be up there with us at the back end of the season, hopefully just behind us of course!
Next up, the lads take on Bristol Rovers, a game that finished all square on the opening day of the season. This time around, a win is an absolute necessity as we charge towards Hull and Peterborough.