Sunderland lacking composure and quality as frustrating draw sees them back in bottom three

This week, the substitutions weren't quite able to deliver the golden moment.

Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 3:55 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 4:00 pm
Sunderland struggled despite a red card for Sam Gallagher

Coleman had gone for it again, sending on Josh Maja, Joel Asoro and Didier Ndong after Sam Gallagher saw red.

The roof came off the Stadium of Light again but the composure was just lacking, Sunderland running out of steam and dropping back into the bottom three.

Birmingham had not looked like a side rooted to the bottom of the table, creating chances throughout and defending superbly when the odds were against them late on.

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Sunderland had always been a threat but the lack of quality and the defensive uncertainty throughout underlined why their manager had been so keen to play down last week's win.

A long season clearly still awaits.

The mood on Wearside had been lifted by last week’s win, and Sunderland came flying out the traps, attacking with real intensity.

Lewis Grabban ought to have put them ahead when he somehow failed to connect with Donald Love’s excellent cross, but there were signs at the other end of uncertainty, the Black Cats making sloppy mistakes and Birmingham finding plenty of space.

They were indebted to Robbin Ruiter who saved well from a corner, but found themselves behind when George Honeyman gave the ball away in his own half. The visitors quickly released Sam Gallagher through the middle and though Marc Wilson blocked his first attempt, the rebound was an easy finish.

Sunderland scouted Gallagher extensively last season and it was easy to see why, his height and presence a threat throughout.

The Black Cats equalised soon after, Grabban gambling on a scuffed Love volley at the back post following fine work from Honeyman, but they were fortunate to find themselves level at the break.

Talented Spaniard Jota was causing havoc on the right hand side, Sunderland unable to cope with his movement. They were fortunate that some good Ruiter saves and some good luck kept them in the contest.

Chris Coleman marched down the tunnel on the whistle, clearly eager to reorganise his side.

They started the second half little better, but did have the first meaningful effort when Vaughan drove just wide from 25 yards. Birmingham continued to stretch their defence but again the Black Cats found a way to go close at the other end, Honeyman’s cross to the back post almost dropping into the goal before Stockdale turned it over the bar.

The game continued to ebb from end-to-end but the crucial moment came 20 minutes from full time, Gallagher shown a second yellow for a late foul on James Vaughan. The first booking, for a dive shortly in the second half, had looked harsh.

Sunderland should have gone ahead soon after, George Honeyman getting free in the box but shooting on his weaker left foot, missing at the far post. Coleman again raised the decibel levels, just as he had done last week, by throwing on Maja, Asoro and Ndong in a triple substitution.

This week, however, there was to be no late surge. Birmingham were comfortable, Sunderland poor on the ball and giving away countless cheap fouls.

A frustrating afternoon and a lot of hard work clearly still ahead.