Opinion: Talking points from Saturday's draw

Sunderland started their 2019-20 campaign with a home draw against Oxford United at the Stadium of Light.

The result was not what Jack Ross and the team were looking for, but it did get the team on the board for the season.

Here are five things we learned from the match:

RINGING THE CHANGES

Sunderland started just two players from their last competitive game back in May.

Just Tom Flanagan and Jon McLaughlin started the Play-Off Final, while Ross handed competitive debuts to four players.

Marc McNulty, George Dobson, Conor McLaughlin and Jordan Willis all got their debuts while Elliot Embleton returned to the squad after his loan spell last season at Grimsby Town.

Also, in the first XI was Dylan McGeouch, Lynden Gooch, Will Grigg and Denver Hume who did not start at Wembley. 

ROKER END RETURNS

Last season, the Red and White Army supporters group came together with the football club to create a wonderful flag display that greets the players as they walk onto the field of play. 

Since its first showing against Coventry City towards the end of the last campaign, the display has grown in popularity and continues to be a feature at every home game.

The display looked just as impressive against Oxford United, as the fans greeted the players with a wall of noise that was spine tingling.

GOOCH ON THE SCORESHEET

After a frustrating first-half performance, Sunderland needed a spark and they got it through academy product Lynden Gooch.

He was instrumental in the goal, as he was brought down for the penalty after some great work down the right side of the penalty box.

Strikers Grigg and McNulty both wanted the chance to take the spot kick, but Gooch ushered them away and took his penalty very well, lashing it into the top right corner to level the game at 1-1. 

MCGEADY BACK

The Sunderland boss was able to welcome Aiden McGeady back into the fold after his injury troubles towards the end of last season.

McGeady had yet to feature for the Black Cats in pre-season, though he did return to training while the Lads were in Portugal. 

His return is a huge boost to Ross and his team, with McGeady likely to be pushing for start next week at Portman Road. 

A DRAW TO START

It is fair to say that a draw was not the start that the club were aiming for to start their season, but it was not for the fault of trying.

The Black Cats pushed throughout the second half but could not find a breakthrough as Oxford defended resolutely. 

While the point is not ideal, it does get the Lads on the board for the season. 

 
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