Match Report: Wyke secures a point

Sunderland AFC 1-1 Blackpool

Charlie Wyke’s first-half equaliser earned Sunderland a point against Blackpool on Saturday.

The Tangerines struck first at the Stadium of Light, with Matty Virtue’s lopping finish opening the scoring after just four minutes.

Phil Parkinson’s side responded – and so did the Roker End – but they had to be patient, as a resilient Blackpool defensive ensured clear-cut chances were a rarity.

With 37 minutes played, persistance paid off and Charlie Wyke levelled, blasting a Chris Maguire corner into the top corner to ensure parity remained the interval.

The towering frontman headed against the woodwork after the restart, but the Lads were reduced to ten men with 15 minutes remaining when George Dobson was dismissed.

Blackpool pushed for a winner, while Will Grigg almost connected with a low cross on the counter, but it remained 1-1 and the spoils were shared.

Wyke returned to the starting XI and fit-again Lynden Gooch was named on the bench, but Jordan Willis missed out after failing to overcome a knee injury.

The Lads started on the front foot and successive corners put the visitors under pressure, with an unorthodox clearance from Liam Feeney signalling a nervy start.

However, a bolt from the blue arrived after four minutes.

After clearing a free-kick, Sunderland fell behind when Virtue picked up the ball on the edge of the box and angled a looping finish over Jon McLaughlin and into the top corner.

Parkinson’s side, with the crowd in full voice despite the early setback, responded well, with Duncan Watmore heading wide moments after an offside flag denied the winger a clear run at goal.

Blackpool continued to soak up the pressure, opting to strike on the break – and they almost did on 20 minutes, as nervy defending from Laurens De Bock resulted in Armand Gnanduillet forcing a save.

A driving run from Watmore led to the next chance, but after being picked out by Denver Hume, Chris Maguire’s 10-yard effort was blocked behind.

Seconds later, the net was rippling!

The Black Cats maintained the pressure and forced a corner, which was hammered home by Wyke at the near post.

Blackpool should have retaken the lead with the final chance before the interval, but after firing the ball past McLaughlin and through a crowded box, James Husband’s goalbound effort was blocked on the line by Gnanduillet.

The game opened up as the second period wore on, with both sides pushing forward and exploiting the space.

But the ‘keepers remained relatively untroubled, as Wyke’s flick deflected into Jak Alnwick’s grasp before a last-ditch challenge from Alim Ozturk thwarted Nathan Delfounso.

As the hour mark passed, Sunderland started to turn the screw and they were desperately unlucky not to lead, as Wyke’s header cannoned off the crossbar.

USA international Gooch made his comeback with 20 minutes on the clock, but the Black Cats were reduced to ten men four minutes later when Dobson picked up a second yellow card.  

Will Grigg and Grant Leadbitter also joined the action as time ticked away, with the former inches away from connecting with O’Nien’s fizzing cross.

It ended level, though, as the sides settled for a point apiece.

Sunderland: McLaughlin, Ozturk, Power, Maguire, Wyke (Grigg 77), Flanagan, O’Nien, Watmore (Gooch 71), Dobson, De Bock, Hume.
Substitutes: McLaughlin, Lynch, McNulty, Burge, Leadbitter.

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