Sunderland 1-1 Shrewsbury Town
Sunderland ended 2018 with their unbeaten home record in Sky Bet League One intact, but they were forced to settle for a point as Shrewsbury Town claimed a point on Wearside.
The Salop started the brighter of the sides and they opened the scoring on the half-hour mark, as Luke Watfall’s pinpoint header punished the Lads.
Josh Maja levelled moments before the break following excellent wing play from Bryan Oviedo, and both sides mustered credible openings after the restart.
Neither side was able to find a winner, though, as the drama continued until the dying seconds.
Jack Ross opted for the same side that defeated Bradford City on Boxing Day, as Maja led the line.
Adam Matthews and George Honeyman missed out once again, but there was plenty of firepower held in reserve, as Duncan Watmore and Charlie Wyke were named on the bench.
Shrewsbury carved out the first opening with three minutes played, but, as he has been throughout the season, Maja was in the right place at the right time to clear the ball off the line.
After a sluggish start, Lynden Gooch sprayed a long ball towards Maja and his first touch was impeccable, but he was denied a clear shot on target by the recovering Anthony Grant.
The visitors continued to grow in confidence, and Josh Laurent was next to try his luck after Jack Baldwin got in a tangle, but his wayward effort sailed off target.
With 30 minutes played, Sam Ricketts’ side finally punished the Black Cats.
A searching free-kick was met by Waterfall and his connection was seamless, as his header looped over Jon McLaughlin and into the corner.
Sunderland almost levelled ten minutes later when Tom Flanagan took down a near-post corner, but the defender’s effort flashed across the face of goal and away to safety.
It was a warning the Salop failed to heed, though, and before the break the Lads levelled.
A free-flowing move sliced open the visitors and Oviedo’s pinpoint cross did all the work, allowing Maja to power a header beyond the helpless Steve Arnold.
Sunderland were forced into a change shortly after the restart, as Reece James replaced Oviedo, who was unable to continue after an awkward fall.
With the visitors content to sit back, Ross made his second switch shortly after, as Wyke replaced Chris Maguire.
The striker provided a towering presence in attack, but the Lads could have fell behind on the hour mark, as Lenell John-Lewis scuffed a great chance well wide.
Max Power headed off target and Maja went down in the box soon after, as the visitors dropped deeper and deeper as time ticked away.
Ross shuffled his pack for a final time with 23 minutes remaining, Duncan Watmore arriving on the scene as the Lads went all-out attack for the final stages.
Aiden McGeady and Wyke both saw half chances come and go, but the best openings came in added time, as McLaughlin prevent an own goal and Watmore’s cross deflected a fraction over at the other end.
It ended level, though, as both sides had to settle for a point.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Baldwin, Flanagan, O’Nien, Oviedo (James 50) Cattermole, Power, Maguire (Wyke 55), McGeady, Gooch (Watmore 67), Maja.
Subs not used: Ruiter, Ozturk, McGeouch, Sinclair.
Shrewsbury Town: Arnold, Haynes (Beckles 88), Sadler, Doherty, Bolton, John-Lewis, Gilliead (Okenabirhie 68), Waterfall, Laurent (Angol 76), Norburn, Grant.
Subs not used: Coleman, Emmanuel, Angol, Eisa, Sears.