Lincoln City 0-0 Sunderland AFC
Sunderland extended their unbeaten run in Sky Bet League One to five games on Saturday, but a goalless draw at Lincoln City ensured the Black Cats returned to Wearside frustrated.
Alex Neil’s side dominated proceedings at the LNER Stadium from start to finish, but parity remained at the interval despite a flurry of chances falling in the Lads’ favour.
On-loan Tottenham Hotspur forward Jack Clarke went closest for the Black Cats in the first half – striking the post before volleying just wide – with Tom Hopper firing wide at the other end.
The Lads continued to surge forward following the interval, as Patrick Roberts impressed and multiple chances fell by the wayside.
Alex Neil turned to Jermain Defoe with 16 minutes on the clock and the 39-year-old quickly settle into his groove, striking wide before Anthony Patterson saved Liam Cullen’s header at point-blank range.
Goalkeeping heroics at the other end also denied Ross Stewart in added time, as Lincoln held out to ensure it ended level.
After coming off the bench to score late on against Crewe Alexandra last time out, Dan Neil and Patrick Roberts were named in the starting XI at the LNER Stadium.
Jay Matete and Jermain Defoe dropped to the bench, as former Black Cat Chris Maguire, who scored a hat-trick at the Stadium of Light earlier this season, started for Michael Appleton’s side.
The direct Roberts made a lively start to proceedings in the Lincolnshire sunshine, with the former Manchester City man driving down both flanks early on.
A driving 60-yard run by Dennis Cirkin put the home side under further pressure nine minutes in, but Stewart’s eventual effort was blocked before Luke O’Nien headed over at the back post.
Roberts continued to apply pressure to the Lincoln backline and a quick one-two unleashed him once more, but the winger’s strike was charged down and looped over the top.
Dan Neil scored his first senior goal at the LNER Stadium earlier this campaign and with 19 minutes played, he could have added a second but failed to find the target from the edge of the box.
Cirkin was required at the other end to clear Brooke Norton-Cuffy’s volleyed cross behind, but the Lads quickly resumed their control of the game and Clarke struck the post before volleying just wide.
Lincoln’s first real opportunity of the opening period arrived with seconds to spare, as Hopper scooped wide after meeting a driven cross at the near post.
Sunderland continued to push forward following the restart and Clarke’s effort whistled wide within seconds of the action resuming.
The 21-year-old delivered a stunning cross to the back post soon after, but Stewart was unable to apply the finishing touch on 53 minutes.
Lincoln continued to live dangerously and Roberts, who stood out throughout the contest, danced his way to the touchline before pulling the ball back into the box where Evans struck the base of the post.
Excellent play from Lynden Gooch sliced open the Lincoln defence after the hour mark, but Clarke’s cushioned first-timer crept just wide.
Bailey Wright and his defensive team-mates had little to do in the opening 70 minutes, but a potentially goal-saving interception ensured the Black Cats weren’t caught cold at the other end.
Leon Dajaku and Defoe joined the action late on and the latter almost made an instant impact, but the 39-year-old striker pulled a low drive just wide.
Anthony Patterson’s first save of the afternoon arrived on 84 minutes – and what a save it was – as the academy graduate denied Cullen at point-blank range.
The Lads continued to search for a winner and Stewart forced a wonder save in stoppage time, as Lincoln held out to ensure the spoils were shared.
Lincoln City: Wright; Poole, Jackson, Walsh, (Whittaker 61), Norton-Cuffy, McGrandles, Fiorini, Bramall; Maguire; Marquis (Cullen 79), Hopper.
Subs not used: Sanders, Sorensen, House, Scully, Bishop.
Sunderland AFC: Patterson, Wright, Cirkin, Winchester, Evans, Neil (Defoe 74), O'Nien, Gooch (Doyle 84), Clarke (Dajaku 74), Roberts, Stewart.
Subs not used: Hoffmann, Embleton, Hume, Matete.