Charlton Athletic 0-0 Sunderland
Sunderland remain unbeaten in Sky Bet League One but will look to several chances to have taken all three points, as the 10-man Lads take a goalless draw back to Wearside from Charlton Athletic.
A series of chances – primarily in the first half – gave Phil Parkinson’s men numerous openings to score, but Charlton held firm and were helped significantly by Tom Flanagan’s second-half dismissal.
The Black Cats saw plenty of the ball in the opening 20 minutes, with some encouraging pieces of play just missing the clear-cut chance at the end on the Charlton goal.
The first opportunity however was the cue for several to follow, and arrived at the midway point of the first half, as a neat move down the right-hand side saw Aiden O’Brien meet Luke O’Nien’s cross and feed Danny Graham. The striker’s stab at goal was denied by Ben Amos from close range.
Continuing to push further into the Charlton half, the Lads dominated much of the midfield battle, particularly thanks to the composure of Grant Leadbitter in the engine room.
The effectiveness of Sunderland’s territorial advantage would serve to create another chance – Bailey Wright rising highest to divert O’Nien’s set-piece delivery towards goal, denied by a superb full-stretch Amos stop. Tom Flanagan would then fire over from the resulting corner kick.
Flanagan’s vision from the back then handed the Lads another huge opportunity, as Graham received a long ball from the centre-half and played in O’Brien, who evaded a challenge and was again denied by former Millwall teammate Amos. Graham’s two bites at the rebound were both excellently denied by last-ditch Charlton blocks.
Following a series of set-pieces for the hosts, another impressive move starting from goalkeeper Lee Burge would result in the next delivery from the right – this time inch-perfect from Josh Scowen – which Graham was unable to keep down from inside the area.
Charlton looked lively out of the traps for the second half, Alfie Doughty marauding forward and firing a long-range strike off target in the opening minute.
This was then immediately replicated by Scowen, who created space for himself before striking just over from 20 yards out, shortly followed by a similar effort from the lively Lynden Gooch after a sustained spell of Black Cats possession.
Parkinson’s men continued to spend much of the second period in the Charlton half, and with 25 minutes remaining the boss introduced Charlie Wyke and Will Grigg to the front line – Wyke was later to meet Denver Hume’s dangerous pull-back but was unable to connect with the shot.
It was however with 15 minutes left that the Lads suffered a major setback, as Flanagan was marginally beaten to the ball by Conor Washington, only for the striker to go down under the last man’s challenge and consequently giving little option for the referee. The resulting free kick would be struck over by Dylan Levitt, 25 yards from goal.
The numerical advantage naturally gave Lee Bowyer’s team more breathing space to go forward, and Sunderland were able to defend sturdily towards the latter stages – especially following the introduction of Marcus Maddison for his Charlton debut.
As both teams pushed late on, the deadlock remained unbroken and the Lads return north with a point, with mixed feelings in the circumstances.
CHARLTON ATHLETIC: Amos, Oshilaja, Pratley ©, Famewo, Purrington, Levitt (Maddison 84’), Watson, Oztumer (Williams 46’), Doughty, Vennings (Aneke 72’), Washington.
Subs not used: Maynard-Brewer, Morgan, Lapslie, Barker.
SUNDERLAND: Burge, Willis, Wright ©, Flanagan, O’Nien, Scowen, Leadbitter, Gooch, Hume, O’Brien (Wyke 65’), Graham (Grigg 65’).
Subs not used: Matthews, McLaughlin, Power, Xhemajli, Diamond.