Exactly what happened as Sunderland's League One clash at Wycombe descended into farce with three late reds and nasty injuries

The scenes at the end of Sunderland's draw at Adams Park have attracted national headlines.

Sunday, 10th March 2019, 10:35 am
Updated Sunday, 10th March 2019, 10:38 am
A game of high tension exploded in stoppage time as three red cards were handed out

Three reds, two to players not even on the pitch.

One side finishing with nine and the other with then.

A game of high tension exploded in stoppage time as three red cards were handed out

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Nasty injuries and remarkable scenes in the away end as nearly 3,000 travelling supporters wildly celebrated a cathartic equaliser.

But the chaos that ensued in stoppage time had long been coming.

Sunderland were frustrated with referee Lee Swabey, who they felt had little control of the game throughout.

Judging by the reactions of Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth throughout, he wasn't impressed either.

A bruising encounter had become marked by feisty challenges and long, incessant breaks to the play. When the ball went into the dug-out as the Black Cats pushed for a winner, 90 minutes of extreme tension and frustration exploded into the melee that has inevitably sparked much debate.


That the first half ended with five minutes added time underlined the difficult nature of the game.

It was one that simply never got going.

Physically it was brutal, Luke O'Nien left in a heap just ten minutes in when Alex Samuel was booked for a late challenge.

It continued throughout, with at least four extended stoppages as players on both sides were treated for injury.

The tension continued and escalated into the second half, with Sunderland irritated by what they perceived to be time-wasting on the part of Wycombe Wanderers.

Constant pauses to the flow of the game continued.

Aiden McGeady was booked for dissent after giving away a foul, giving the referee an earful after Jason McCarthy was brought down.

It was a game waiting for a spark and as it entered into the last ten minutes, there were plenty.


Tensions must be high when Jack Baldwin, one the most mild-mannered footballer in the game, gets involved.

The incident occurred when Wycombe won a free kick just inside the Sunderland half (the away dugout initially thought a free kick had been awarded in their favour).

The taker waited to deliver, with the ball stationary five or ten yards behind him.

Substitute Baldwin, frustrated with the continued delay, ran onto the pitch and kicked the ball forwards to where the set piece was due to be taken.

The referee extended the delay as he came over to the dugout to show Baldwin a yellow.

Sunderland were infuriated.


Another extended delay as goalkeeper Ryan Allsop is treated by the physio.

Tom Flanagan was booked for his part in the play.

Jimmy Dunne had headed a Grant Leadbitter corner towards goal, well saved by Allsop. He recovered to gather the ball but took a whack as Flanagan tried to force the ball towards goal.

The Sunderland centre-back was then involved in a minor scuffle with angered Wycombe players.


No foul was given after what seemed an innocent but fierce collision.

A loose ball dropped and as Flanagan stopped to head, he took a kick from Wycombe striker Samuel.

Initially, the stretcher came onto the field with Flanagan in obvious discomfort.

There was a significant delay but thankfully Flanagan was able to get to his feet and leave the pitch with the help of the physio.

Jack Ross said: "I have not spoken to any of the medical staff yet, from his injury, I am not sure how he was on the pitch at the time.

"We have to assess it from a protocol side of things."

Flanagan's departure left Sunderland with ten men approaching stoppage time, having already made all three substitutes.


As the game prepared to restart, the fourth official signalled that there would be six minutes of stoppage time.

Sunderland were incensed, clearly believing not enough time had been added on, particularly after the extended delay following Flanagan's injury.

Ross and assistant James Fowler remonstrated with the fourth official, with Fowler also challenging the referee, who duly came over to book Fowler.


Sunderland were struggling to force many openings but sparked jubilant scenes in the away end as Allsop failed to gather a long-range effort from Leadbitter.

Watmore was quickest to react to the fumble, firing into the back of the net.

The Black Cats, a man down, were level.


This was the incident that many felt inevitable given the way the game had developed.

Sunderland pushed for a winner as Wycombe cleared a ball out of touch and towards the dugout.

Precisely what happened is not quite clear, but it appears that members of the Sunderland bench, including George Honeyman and kitman John Cooke, tried to retrieve the ball.

Wycombe assistant manager Richard Dobson got their first, the ball disappearing.

A confrontation ensued, quickly exploding as both benches got involved.

The melee continued before Swabey eventually showed reds to both Honeyman and Nathan Tyson.


Marcus Bean had been at the centre of a lively midfield battle with Lee Cattermole.

Both were booked in the second half, but the Black Cats were frustrated that Bean managed to avoid a yellow for so long.

He was sent off shortly after the melee for a crude challenge on goalscorer Duncan Watmore, who was breaking free into the Wycombe half.

Bean caught his ankle as he looked to bring an end to the encounter, a challenge which Ross thought should have been a straight red.

"I wasn't too enamoured with the challenge, I thought it was a straight red not another yellow," Ross said.

"He is a bit sore at the moment.

"But it is his ankle, a separate injury obviously but not brilliant for him after so long out."

Watmore couldn't continue, leaving Sunderland to play out the closing minutes with nine, Wycombe with ten.

Bean subsequently took to twitter to apologise.

He said: "I'd like to apologies to Watmore. Praying it isn't serious. I meant no malice. I know he has just returned from a long layoff and i would like to wish him a speedy recovery!"


Jack Ross: "It was competitive. I said to the players at half time, you have two choices.

"Think that shouldn't happen or deal with it and give as good as you get.

"I have no issue, they make it tough. We have to deal with it as a team.

"It is something I need to look at, I don't really know what went on. I saw a lot of people coming together.

"I am going to speak to the referee and get clarity on it. Then I can look at everything and see if it was justified.

"First of all, I don't think there was a huge amount of control over the whole game," he added.

"And I did comment on that through the game.

"That was a factor.

"We have to take responsibility within our behaviour, as do Wycombe, both technical areas have to take responsibility, you can't proportion blame to the referee for that.

"But the whole game had a lack of control.

"I can't quite believe having seen some of the additional time added this season that there was six minutes added today.

"The number of times the game was stopped, quite incredible.

"The game always had that little feel around it.

"What happens in the end, it is not good. "I have no issue with my players and staff looking after each other but it always has to be within reason.

"I haven't watched it again, we have footage and I will watch it."

Gareth Ainsworth: "The ball has come into our technical area and Dobbo has gone to volley it back into play.

“The ball then went missing and both benches erupted. I was doing my best to stop my players getting involved because I don’t need red cards at the moment.

“I could not have been prouder of my players’ performance today.

“I’m just gutted that we could not hang on for that victory.”