Six things: Middlesbrough loanee struggles, Millwall should have had red card, Sunderland and Sheff Wed linked to Lions striker

Chris Coleman rolled the dice at Millwall, making six changes from the side that drew 3-3 with Middlesbrough.

Sunday, 4th March 2018, 12:56 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th March 2018, 1:05 pm
Ashley Fletcher in action for Sunderland. Pictures by Frank Reid.

Sunderland left The Den with a point, here's what we learned from the 1-1 draw.

Chris Coleman the tinkerman:

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Sunderland were without Jake Clarke-Salter and Paddy McNair through suspension and injury respectively but Coleman made six changes, January signed Lee Camp was axed, in from the cold came Jason Steele.

Ty Browning returned, Ovie Ejaria recalled to midfield with Aiden McGeady, Callum McManaman and Ashley Fletcher.

Opting against a settled side and formation, Coleman has vowed to keep chopping and changing with Sunderland scrapping for every point, keeping Sunderland players on their toes.

Will it pay off?

Jason Steele makes a block with his legs.

Ashley Fletcher continues to struggle:

Of the six changes, Fletcher was the only one to have a poor game.

Sunderland need a presence up front, an experienced striker leading the attack, someone who can hold the ball up and bring others into play.

Someone who can win headers and challenge the opposition defence.

George Honeyman is on the end of a bad tackle from Jake Cooper.

Fletcher is struggling to impose himself and snatching at any chances that do come his way.

Kicking needs to improve but Jason Steele can be happy with performance:

Sunderland's problems with the goalkeeping department continue with January signing Lee Camp dropped after a series of unconvincing displays.

Steele was handed the gloves again. And he didn't disappoint. He looked far more assured and confident coming for balls into the box and made some important saves.

Jason Steele makes a block with his legs.

His kicking was poor and that is one area that needs a big improvement. But he can be pleased with his performance after earning a recall with hard graft on the training ground.

Draws aren't enough at this stage:

A point away from home against a side that was unbeaten in eight games isn't a poor result but with Sunderland still rooted to the foot of the Championship they need wins.

Coleman opted to shake up his side in a bid to spark victory and they went close, leading at half-time but with confidence low, Sunderland again invited pressure, eventually cracking.

There was no lack of effort or spirit and the superb travelling support appreciated the players' efforts, with the team applauded off at full-time.

But it was two more points dropped.

George Honeyman is on the end of a bad tackle from Jake Cooper.

11 games to go, four points adrift. Not quite miracle territory yet but it is getting close.

Millwall should have been down to ten men:

Second-half sub George Honeyman was wiped out by Millwall's Jake Cooper and he should have received a straight red for the tackle below Honeyman's knee.

The midfielder was lucky to walk away without serious injury, referee Andy Davies didn't even blow for a foul.

Coleman said: "I thought there should have been a straight red card for a tackle on George Honeyman – it was a bad challenge.

"But overall it was a good scrap, a good game."

Sunderland defence endure tough afternoon against experienced Millwall duo:

Millwall started well but Sunderland soon found their groove and controlled the game in the first half, Ovie Ejaria heavily involved in the middle.

Millwall, behind at the break, were always going to come out and attack and they put Sunderland's defence under intense pressure for the entire second half.

Experienced strike force Lee Gregory, linked with a summer move to Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday, and skipper Steve Morison asked a lot of questions, with constant balls down

the channels.

The intensity levels were to be admired, Sunderland did concede after failing to deal with a goalmouth scramble but they didn't collapse, something to take heart from.