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On This Day (9th November 2014): Gus Poyet’s draw specialists strike again!

Having started to gain a reputation as draw specialists, Gus Poyet’s Sunderland were primed and ready to share the spoils with an Everton team which featured Aidan McGeady...

Drawing games was became the norm on Wearside in the early parts of 2014-15.

Gus Poyet had continued as Sunderland boss after his sensational rescue mission the previous season.

After the highs at the end of the previous campaign, this one was a little slower in reaching lift-off. Poyet had intended on ensuring his side was quite solid at the back (understandably so) but a creative spark was missing along with a goalscoring striker which was as glaringly an issue as it is with the Sunderland side of today.

Up until this point in early November, Sunderland had only scored 11 goals in 11 games with one of them being a Harry Kane own goal.

The essential systems failure that we were dealing with up front brought the solidity of the defence sharply into focus. Thankfully, this part of the team was holding up their part of the bargain - for the most part with a 8-0 thrashing from Southampton still fresh in the minds of many.

Southampton v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The creative trade off for solidity meant Sunderland didn’t lose many games (4) but won even fewer (2) with the rest draws in their first 11 games.

Roberto Martinez’s Everton were the polar opposite - littered with creative talent and clinical players such as Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and Aiden McGeady.

This game arrived days after Everton had played in Europe, and the start to the game displayed two cautious sides.

Both teams had spells of early pressure but long range shots were as close as either side came with Darron Gibson and Lukaku.

At the other end, Sunderland’s rampaging Anthony Reveillere repeatedly burst into the left side of the box and drew a superb tackle from Aiden McGeady on 26 minutes. However, there was drama when referee Lee Mason waved away appeals for a foul on Jordi Gomez on the edge of the area by Phil Jagielka.

As the first half wore on, the game started to come to life with further chances for both sides.

Aiden McGeady went close with a swerving shot from distance just before the half-hour mark, while Ross Barkley saw his shot blocked by Liam Bridcutt.

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Sunderland had arguably the best chance of the half when Gomez forced Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard to save a low shot from the edge of the penalty area with his legs.

Romelu Lukaku was having one of those days that he has become renowned for in parts of his career. Despite an abundance of talent, the Belgian tends to miss countless opportunities in certain games and this game was one of them where two big opportunities went to waste minutes after each other.

Everton should have scored early in the second half when Romelu Lukaku seized on Bridcutt’s errant backpass and was clear on goal, but the Belgium striker’s touch was heavy and Sunderland goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon came off his line to gather at the feet of the striker. Lukaku went close again with a powerful angled shot which Pantilimon tipped on to the post.

With Lukaku rueing his missed opportunities, we took the lead from our set piece specialist. After Leighton Baines fouled Will Buckley just outside the box, Seb Larsson stepped up to curl the resulting free kick over the wall and into the corner of the net.

The goal was a typical Larsson free kick in what was a fantastic finish. The question was, could we hold on to this lead for 25 minutes.

Of course, the answer was no!

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Less than ten minutes later, Everton were back on level terms when Seamus Coleman was fouled in the box by Connor Wickham.

Remarkably, Wickham escaped a card, but Baines blasted the ball down the middle of the goal to pull Everton level – although Pantilimon could have done better to keep it out.

In fairness to Sunderland, we responded well. Poyet urged his players to go on the attack and late on, we nearly could have nicked it had it not been for Republic of Ireland international James McCarthy when he cleared away Wes Brown’s goal bounded header.

McCarthy, though, was Everton’s hero at the death, blasting away Brown’s powerful header in stoppage time to extend his side’s unbeaten run to four games in the Premier League.

At the end, a 1-1 draw wasn’t a terrible result for either side. Sunderland would have been somewhat aggrieved that they could not have held on for all three points but at the same token, Romelu Lukaku had several chances to put the game out of sight for the Toffees.

After the game, Gus Poyet expressed his pleasure at the fact the team have bounced back well from the previous month's humiliation.

The idea was to stop the negativity and all the bad things we were doing on the pitch with a few good results. And we have done that. I watched Everton on Thursday and they were outstanding. They ran over Lille completely, so we knew what they were capable of.

We played the game differently, we were not Lille. We didn’t give them too much space, and we didn’t allow them to get into the box or create a lot of chances.

They had two or three, and from one Costel (Pantilimon) did exceptionally well to keep us in the game, but we played quite well and created chances and, on another day, Wes (Brown) would have scored (with a stoppage-time header).

So when we think about where we were a week ago, then yes, I think it’s better.


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