Exactly how it played out and who impressed as Sunderland are held to a draw at York City
Benji Kimpioka’s late penalty miss saw Sunderland held to a 1-1 draw by York City in their latest pre-season friendly.
The substitute striker had done brilliantly to earn the opportunity to win the game for his side in the dying minutes, but was unable to convert as the National League North side held out.
The Black Cats had dominated the first half and should have had more reward than Dan Neil’s opening goal, but they were punished for a sluggish start to the second half and some exceptionally poor set-piece defending.
Sunderland created more than enough to win the contest over ninety minutes, but York will feel the draw was a fair reflection of their much-improved endeavours through the second half of the contest.
With Corry Evans making his first start in a Sunderland shirt, Lee Johnson was able to field his side in a shape closely resembling the one he is expected to field on a regular basis in the league this season.
With full-backs still thin on the ground as the Black Cats continue to monitor the transfer market, Ollie Younger stepped in on the right with Tyrese Dyce handed another opportunity on the other flank.
Bailey Wright was absent amid rumours of a move to Wigan Athletic, though it is worth noting that he had been absent from friendly at Hearts due to a minor groin problem.
Will Grigg and Carl Winchester were also missing from the matchday squad.
Right from the off, Elliot Embleton was enjoying the freedom of playing in his natural number ten position, and it was a clever move on his part that forced the first opening six minutes in.
He broke free down the right of the box, teeing up Lynden Gooch whose low effort was palmed clear of danger by Ryan Whitley in the York City goal.
Whitley would have an excellent half, and was the main reason why the Black Cats weren’t able to assume an entirely dominant position in the contest.
Aiden McGeady was unsurprisingly a prominent figure early on, his low effort blocked by the York defence as he drove inside from the left.
Sunderland should have been ahead twenty minutes in when Ross Stewart capitalised on some uncertainty in the home backline, picking up possession in space and driving towards the byline. His low cross should have been turned home by Evans, but Whitley did well to make a strong block with his legs.
Though the Black Cats suffered a setback when Gooch was withdrawn with what looked to be a hamstring injury, they soon had the lead their play deserved.
Embleton released McGeady with an excellent first-time flick, and the winger had time to cross when he stood up his marker at the byline. His low ball to the middle of the box was precise, and Neil was rewarded for his ambition by passing the ball into the far corner.
The youngter had been the standout player of the opening half hour, constantly driving his team forward with clever pall and a willingness to turn into space.
York had enjoyed one or two moments of threat but generally the Black Cats had been comfortable, marshaled impressively once again by the excellent Callum Doyle.
They had one opening when Dyson struck wide from the edge of the area, and the visitors were fortunate that one header from a corner flashed just wide of the far post.
For the most part, though, Sunderland continued to forge the best openings and they were unlucky not to extend their lead before the break.
Embleton again opened up the pitch with a superb through ball, releasing substitute Jack Diamond to drive downfield. He cut the ball back for Stewart, who took one touch before forcing another good stop from Whitley.
The attacking midfielder nearly got himself on the scoresheet just before half time, but his dipping effort from the edge of the area lacked the power to beat Whitley.
York started the second half well and rewarded with a swift equaliser; Sunderland dealing poorly with a good free kick that was whipped in from deep. The initial header struck the far post and bounced out, but Willoughby was there to smash home from close range with ease.
The Black Cats were comfortably second best as the hosts continued to control the early stages of the half, but Stewart did go close when Embleton sprang him clear on the break, firing his effort over the bar as he cut inside.
Sunderland began to build some momentum as their substitutions began to take effect, McGeady forcing a good low stop from substitute goalkeeper Jameson as he found space in the box. From the following corner Embleton dipped a dangerous ball in towards the far post, and Jameson had to be alert to scramble backwards and clear.
York had a chance to take the lead as the game headed into the final ten minutes, but Willoughby could only head over the bar from a good cross to the near post.
The game looked to be fizzling out when Embleton drove an excellent low pass into the box. Substitute Kimpioka did superbly to lay the ball into Aiden O’Brien’s path, and looked set to score when he showed the composure to step past Jameson. The York goalkeeper brought him down, but his effort to the right-hand corner was weak and Jameson was able to make the save.
Sunderland XI: Burge; Younger, Flanagan, Doyle (Richardson, 61), Dyce (Newall, 79); Evans (Hawkes, 61), Neil, Embleton; Gooch (Diamond, 26), McGeady (Kimpioka, 79), Stewart (O’Brien, 61)