Match report: All-square on opening day

Sunderland AFC 1-1 Oxford United

Sunderland’s 2019-20 Sky Bet League One campaign started with a draw, as Oxford United claimed a point at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Karl Robinson’s side opened the scoring with 14 minutes on the clock, as the U’s stole possession in the final third and Tariqe Fosu slotted the ball into the net.

A foul ensured Rob Dickie’s header was ruled out, and the Lads responded following the restart through Lynden Gooch’s penalty.

But unlike one year ago, there was to be no dramatic ending on Wearside, as both sides were forced to settle for a point.

Jack Ross handed debuts to four players, as Conor McLaughlin, Jordan Willis, George Dobson and Marc McNulty were named in the starting XI.

Elliot Embleton was also handed his first start for the club, with a strong bench including the likes of Luke O’Nien, Chris Maguire, Duncan Watmore and Aiden McGeady.

A rapturous atmosphere greeted the sides as they exited the tunnel, but they were almost silenced on five minutes, as Fosu stole in behind and fired wide.

Sunderland volleyed back with a chance of their own, as McNulty and Embleton combined before a stunning save from Simon Eastwood denied the latter.

Starting at right wing-back, Gooch made a productive start to proceedings, but the visitors struck first, seizing the ball before Fosu’s calm strike provided the finishing touch.  

Oxford had the ball in the net again just before the half-hour mark, however, Rob Dickie’s header was ruled out due to a foul on McLaughlin.

It didn’t quite happen for the Lads in the first 45, but within four minutes of the restart, they were level.

Gooch won the penalty and duly stepped up, making no mistake with a cracking spot kick that nestled into the corner.

The introduction of Watmore added a new dimension to the Lads’ attack, with multiple crosses from the forward, and McNulty, whistling through the box before Ben Woodburn fired high and wide after McLaughlin was sent crashing to the deck.  

McGeady and Maguire both entered the fray as the clocked ticked towards 90 minutes, but neither side was able to find a winner, as it ended all square on Wearside.

Attendance: 33,498

Sunderland: McLaughlin, C McLaughlin, Willis, Flanagan, Gooch (Maguire 82), Hume, McGeouch, Dobson, Embleton (Watmore 59), McNulty, Grigg (McGeady 71).
Substitutes: Burge, Ozturk, O’Nien, Leadbitter.

Oxford United: Eastwood, Cadden, Ruffles, Dickie, Rodriguez, Brannagan, Woodburn (Hanson 75), Fosu (Hall 82), Mousinho, Henry, Mackie.
Subs not used: Long, Stevens, Sykes, Napa, Moore.




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