Sunderland 2-2 Peterborough United
Josh Maja and Jerome Sinclair were on target on Tuesday evening, but ten-man Sunderland were held to a draw by Peterborough United.
Maja, who else, opened the scoring for the Lads with his eighth league goal in 11 games, as the striker impressed alongside Sinclair and Aiden McGeady in a new-look front three.
The latter menaced throughout and managed 90 minutes on his first start of the campaign, almost adding a second as a venomous strike hurtled over the top.
Peterborough simply couldn’t cope with the Lads in the opening 45 minutes, but they regrouped following the interval and Joe Ward forced a flying save from Jon McLaughlin.
But after weathering the storm, the Black Cats gifted the Posh a chance to take something from the game, as Bryan Oviedo kicked out at Marcus Maddison and was sent off.
The Lads paid the price, and just a few minutes later, Ward levelled.
Sinclair restored the Black Cats’ advantage but Steve Evans’ side produced an instant reply, as Ivan Toney struck to seal a point.
Jack Ross was forced into wholesale changes with a plethora of players ruled out, but he was still able to select a side boasting plenty of firepower.
The Scot was unable to call upon Glenn Loovens, Denver Hume, Donald Love, Lynden Gooch, Duncan Watmore and Charlie Wyke, while George Honeyman and Luke O’Nien were also absent from the squad, but it offered others the chance to impress.
And McGeady, who needs little introduction, made a lively start the game, teasing and twisting on the left as the Black Cats started on the front foot.
Peterborough, meanwhile, were a threat on the counter, but neither side was able to fashion an opportunity in the opening 20 minutes.
However, there’s simply no stopping the man with the magic touch.
With 21 minutes on the clock, Maja trapped the ball and turned into space before dispatching a pinpoint finish into the bottom corner to hand Ross’ men a 1-0 lead.
The Lads poured forward after the opener as they searched for a second, and they almost got one two minutes later, as McGeady toyed with his marker before slamming the ball just over the crossbar.
In the top two ahead of the game, Peterborough failed to produce a response as they focussed on stopping the free-flowing Black Cats.
And the Lads almost grabbed a sensational second four minutes before the interval, as Maguire and McGeady combined to find Maja before Sinclair latched onto the striker’s backheel and powered an effort wide.
The Lads were required to play the opening stages of the second period with ten men, as Tom Flanagan was forced down the tunnel to receive treatment following a collision with Toney.
Thankfully, defender re-emerged a few minutes later and it was well timed, as the Posh began to turn the screw and Ward forced a save before Jack Baldwin made a vital interception.
Like Ward, Maddison entered the fray at the interval and the midfielder mustered the next chance, taking the ball perfectly in his stride before testing McLaughlin with a low strike.
Sunderland regrouped and started to test the Posh after the hour mark, but with 23 minutes remaining the red mist descended.
After overrunning the ball, Oviedo needlessly kicked out at Maddison and was subsequently sent off.
Peterborough threw caution to the wind and called upon League One’s top scorer, Matt Godden, but it was Ward who levelled with a low finish finding the corner.
With ten minutes remaining, Sinclair’s first goal in red and white sparked jubilation in the south stand, as players and fans alike exploded with passion.
But it didn’t last, as Toney had the final say to ensure a share of the spoils.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Flanagan, Baldwin, Matthews, Oviedo, McGeouch, Power, McGeady, Maguire, Sinclair (Kimpioka 90), Maja (James 69).
Subs not used: Ruiter, Ozturk, Robson, Mumba, Diamond, Kimpioka.
Peterborough United: Chapman, Naismith, Daniel, Woodyard, Tafazolli, O’Hara, Dembele (Maddison 45), Cooke (Ward 45), Bennett, Toney, Cummings (Godden 72).
Subs not used: Tyler, Walker, Reed, Yorwerth.