January reinforcements key as Lee Probert endures dismal afternoon: Six things learned from Sunderland's draw with Luton Town

Sunderland were held to a 1-1 draw at home to promotion rivals Luton Town following an entertaining afternoon at the Stadium of Light.

Sunday, 13th January 2019, 8:30 am
Updated Sunday, 13th January 2019, 8:34 am
Sunderland striker Charlie Wyke.

Here’s what we learned from the draw.

Premier League referee Lee Probert endures an afternoon to forget.

Sunderland striker Charlie Wyke.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

When Jack Ross criticises a referee, you know he’s had a bad game. The Scot very rarely puts the focus on the man in the middle unless he feels Sunderland have been on the end of a bad decision.

Probert got countless decisions wrong. For both sides. Both clubs plan to appeal the red cards, Danny Hylton’s elbow and Chris Maguire’s stamp, while there was barely contact when Tom Flanagan challenged Hylton for the penalty.

Aside from the major talking points, there was a steady stream of bizarre refereeing decisions throughout the afternoon.

Booed at half time. Probert, who has overseen ten games in the Premier League this season, was booed off at full time too. He had long lost control of the game.

Sunderland remain unbeaten at home but too many draws for comfort

Sunderland have stuttered in recent weeks. Whether that be down to key players missing some important games, injuries, fatigue or just the sheer number of games.

Sunderland have drawn three and lost one out of their last six.

They maintained their record of scoring in every league game but this was their tenth draw of the campaign.

No disgrace against impressive promotion rivals Luton Town but Sunderland need to step it up in the second half of the season.

Jon McLaughlin produced an outstanding display.

The Scot made four superb saves, three in the first half, to ensure Sunderland didn’t fall behind early on against Luton.

Goalkeepers cost Sunderland a lot of points last season, arguably anywhere between 15 to 20, so to have a reliable No.1 between the sticks is of paramount importance.

McLaughlin is Mr Reliable and he proved his worth again against Luton.

Sunderland missing George Honeyman's energy.

The Sunderland skipper has missed the last six games with an ongoing ankle injury, Portsmouth away the last time he featured.

And his absence was keenly felt against Luton.

Sunderland lacking a link-up between midfield and striker Charlie Wyke. Sunderland miss his relentless energy, especially when pressing sides.

Lee Cattermole will return at Scunthorpe following a two-game suspension but Honeyman return is key.

Sunderland suffer SIXTH straight red of the campaign.

Maguire saw red late on for a stamp on Alan McCormack. Given it happened so late in the game, in added-on time the impact on the result was minimal.

But he now faces a three-game ban unless Sunderland can launch a successful appeal, replays looked inconclusive.

Sunderland have now had six straight reds, though one of Max Power’s three was rescinded. Bryan Oviedo, Glenn Loovens the others to see red.

Far too many. It is hurting the promotion push.

Sunderland lack cutting edge without Josh Maja.

Maja missed the game through illness, the absence of the 15-goal top scorer a huge blow.

Charlie Wyke works hard but hasn’t looked clinical since returning to the side, and had a difficult afternoon against the Luton Town defence.

Duncan Watmore was missing with his groin injury and Jerome Sinclair’s loan from Watford ended.

The need to bring in another striker clear. Sunderland are working hard on that. It is definitely needed, the Black Cats haven’t scored more than one goal in a league game since mid-December.