Coventry City 1-1 Sunderland
Sunderland were forced to settle for a point at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday, as Coventry City came from behind to earn a share of the spoils.
A combative opening period ended goalless, but it wasn’t without incident, as Glenn Loovens and Denver Hume were both forced off.
But the game exploded into life following the restart, as Lee Cattermole’s well-taken finish saw the midfielder notch his third goal of the season.
The Sky Blues produced the perfect response, though, as Jonson Clarke-Harris eventually got the better of Jon McLaughlin after being denied by the Scot on multiple occasions.
Lynden Gooch then picked up a knock and although he was able to continue, his ability to move freely was severely hampered with no substitutes remaining.
But despite being pushed to their limits, the Lads finished strongly and were desperately unlucky not to claim a late winner, as George Honeyman forced a stunning save at the death.
After naming an unchanged side, Sunderland suffered an early setback at the Ricoh Arena as Loovens, who was replaced by Adam Matthews, limped down the tunnel with a hamstring injury.
But they quickly dusted themselves down as fashioned the first opportunity, as Chris Maguire’s 25-yard free-kick curled over the wall and clattered against the post.
Honeyman was unable to find the target with the follow-up, but it was a promising start from the Black Cats, who were urged forward by the 5,000-strong red and white army.
Coventry were forced into a change of their own on 17 minutes, as Tom Davies replaced Junior Brown, before the Lads launched an aerial assault on the Sky Blues’ box.
Maguire and Jack Baldwin both saw bodies thrown in the way of their efforts, while Hume troubled his full-back and won a third corner in quick succession.
Ten minutes before the interval, the Lads were dealt a further fitness blow as Hume was unable to run off an earlier knock, and Bryan Oviedo entered the fray.
Sunderland needed a spark, but they got one immediately after the restart.
Matthews’ low cross from the right evaded one then two, but Cattermole arrived bang on cue to tuck the ball into the corner before celebrating in front of sea of red and white.
Coventry responded well, and they should have levelled, but McLaughlin made a terrific save – albeit seconds before play was halted for offside – before denying Luke Thomas.
And Clarke-Harris spurned a glorious opportunity soon after, as the Lads continued to live life on the edge.
After the hour mark, Gooch fired straight at Lee Burge and Clarke-Harris mustered a similar effort at Mclaughlin, and the Scot continued to frustrate the striker, flying to his left to produce another emphatic stop before denying Thomas.
The game had become increasingly open and with 66 minutes played, Ross called upon Max Power in an attempt to assert some control and see out a valuable win.
But just seconds after the midfielder entered the game, the Sky Blues levelled as Dujon Sterling capitalised on hesitant defending and picked out Clarke-Harris, who finally found a way past McLaughlin.
The Lads picked up a third injury with more than 15 minutes remaining, but Gooch refused to be substituted and put his body on the line with the game in the balance.
Ross’ men enjoyed more of the ball in the final stages, with Burge clawing Power’s teasing cross to safety.
Honeyman also forced a stunning save from the ‘keeper with three minutes or normal time remaining, before an absolutely breath-taking goalline clearance from Baldwin prevented what looked like a certain goal from Conor Chaplin, as it ended level at the Ricoh.
Coventry City: Burge, Willis, Doyle, Chaplin, Brown (Davies 17), Hyam, Sterling, Clarke-Harris, Bayliss, Thomas (Jones 77), Shipley.
Subs not used: O’Brien, Kelly, Ogogo, Bakayoko, Andreu.
Sunderland: McLaughlin, Loovens (Matthews 4), Cattermole, Maguire, McGeouch (Power 66), Honeyman, Gooch, Flanagan, Baldwin, Maja, Hume (Oviedo 37).
Subs not used: Ruiter, Ozturk, Sinclair, McGeady.