Sunderland AFC 0-0 Doncaster Rovers
Sunderland were held to a goalless draw against Doncaster Rovers at the Stadium of Light on Friday evening.
Joel Lynch went closest in the first 45, as a combative affair saw both sides thunder into challenges in an attempt to gain the upper hand.
Phil Parkinson’s side stepped things up after the break, dominating the ball and pushing the visitors back into their defensive third.
Doncaster continued to stand their ground in their quest to chase down the top six, as the Black Cats saw multiple penalty appeals waved away.
And although Duncan Watmore went close late on, it ended level on Wearside as the Lads posted another point on the board ahead of a busy week on the road.
Parkinson opted for the same XI that defeated MK Dons, as January recruits Kyle Lafferty – a debutant at Stadium MK – and Bailey Wright started on the bench.
One month after Sunderland secured a 2-1 win at the Keepmoat Stadium, there was a similar feeling about the early exchanges, as the sides settled into the battle on Wearside.
A hefty challenge on Chris Maguire by Cameron John set the tone for a combative opening period, with former Black Cat Reece James winning the game’s first corner shortly after.
With 21 minutes played, a pinpoint corner from Maguire was headed at goal by Joel Lynch, but the towering centre back’s effort rippled into the side netting.
Rovers responded and Tom Anderson nodded wide, but clear-cut chances remained at a premium and it was as you were at the half-time whistle.
Sunderland started on the front foot following the restart – and the red and white army continued to raise the roof – as Maguire volleyed over the top following a sustained spell of pressure.
At the other end, Jon McLaughlin was forced to beat Madger Gomes’ effort away before Jon Taylor sent a first-time header looping wide on the follow-up.
The game continued at a frantic pace – Denver Hume and Lynden Gooch enjoying a particularly fruitful spell down the left – and although Lynch appeared to have his heels clipped inside the box, a corner was the ruling.
Hume and Halliday clashed in the box soon after, but once again play continued before Luke O’Nien headed over at the back post.
With just under 20 minutes on the clock, Parkinson made a double change with Watmore and Kyle Laffery tasked with making a difference.
And Watmore almost stole the headlines, but a stoppage-time save ensured it ended level at the SoL.
Sunderland AFC: J McLaughlin, Lynch, Willis, Ozturk, Power, Maguire (Watmore 72), Wyke (Lafferty 72), Gooch, O’Nien, Dobson, Hume.
Subs not used: Burge, C McLaughlin, McNulty, Leadbitter, Wright.
Doncaster Rovers: Dieng, Halliday, Wright, Anderson, John, Whiteman, Sheaf, Taylor, Gomes, James (Blair 75), Ennis.
Subs not used: Lawlor, Amos, Watters, Coppinger, Greaves.