Match report: Ice-cool Kimpioka clinches point

Sunderland AFC 1-1 Coventry City

Benji Kimpioka’s first league goal rescued a point for Sunderland against Coventry City at the Stadium of Light.

Dominic Hyam opened the scoring on 26 minutes, nodding the ball home from close range moments after red and white penalty appeals were waved away.

The visitors could have doubled their lead before the break, but it remained a one-goal deficit and Aiden McGeady’s thunderous drive forced a strong save after the restart.

A further penalty shout went unheard after the hour mark, and with time ebbing away, it looked like being a day to forget for the Black Cats.  

But with 89 minutes on the clock, Kimpioka remained ice cool to silence the Sky Blues and ensure the spoils were shared.   

Phil Parkinson made several changes ahead of the game, as Jordan Willis, Joel Lynch and McGeady were restored to the starting XI.

Like Willis, Lee Burge was handed a place against his former employers, and the former Sky Blues stopper was forced into action early on.

After seizing possession 35 yards from goal, Zain Westbrooke took aim and saw his swerving effort tipped behind, with brave blocks following as efforts peppered the Sunderland back line.

The Black Cats responded with a first meaningful attack, but it came to a controversial end when McGeady was clipped and penalty appeals were waved away.

Burge was forced into another save on 18 minutes, but this one was far more comfortable, as Amadou Bakayoko turned in the box and fired straight into the stopper’s grasp.

The Lads volleyed back with an incisive counter, but after spreading the ball wide to Chris Maguire, a crowded penalty box allowed the visitors to hack the ball clear.

Risky business followed as a slack pass from Maguire offered Bakayoko a clear run at goal, but Burge was alert to scamper off his line deny the frontman.

There was little the stopper could do from the resulting corner, though, as Michael Rose flicked the ball back into the danger zone and Hyam headed the opener from close range.

Decent defending from Willis followed to deny Bakayoko, who also headed wide on the stroke half-time, while bodies were thrown on the line at the other end to divert a McGeady effort to safety before the break.

A lacklustre start to the second period ensured chances were few and far between, and Duncan Watmore was called upon shortly after the hour mark.

A doubt before the game, Willis limped down the tunnel soon after, but the Lads stepped things up in the stages that followed with Marki Marosi’s one-handed save thwarting McGeady.

A corner then appeared to strike Liam Kelly’s hand, but penalty appeals once again went unheard.  

As time ticked away, George Dobson nipped in and drove towards the box with Watmore to his right, but the midfielder opted to pull the trigger instead of sliding in the unmarked winger, and his effort was blocked.

Coventry were seemingly heading home with three points, but substitute Kimpioka had other ideas, and when the ball broke in the box, an accomplished finish nestled in the corner.

Sunderland AFC: Burge; O’Nien, Willis (Flanagan 68), Lynch, Hume; Leadbitter, Power (Watmore 66), Dobson; Maguire, McGeady, Grigg (Kimpioka, 82)
Subs: McLaughlin, Ozturk, McGeouch, De Bock

Coventry City: Marosi; Dabo, Rose, McFadzean, Hyam, Mason; Kelly, Walsh, Shipley (O’Hare 74), Westbrooke (Allen, Jamie 90); Bakayoko (Allen, Jordy 74)
Subs: Wilson, Watson, McCallum, Kastaneer

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