Joey Barton's circus act, Max Power's cone trick plus why it was a good night for Declan John: The Sunderland matchday notebook
Dropping two points at home to Fleetwood Town would not usually be a cause for celebration but Max Power’s last-gasp equaliser sparked wild scenes.
It almost felt like a win, and in the context of the ongoing Joey Barton pantomime it felt like it could prove a significant point come the end of the season.
Sunderland - who fell behind after five minutes during a woeful opening 20 minute spell - had been frustrated for much of the evening.
Fleetwood time-wasting after just 10 minutes. Alex Cairns taking an age over every goal-kick, Fleetwood players going down with knocks every time they won a corner or free-kick.
Time and time again. In the end referee Scott Oldham added six minutes. Phil Parkinson wanted more.
Up stepped Power with a 97th-minute equaliser. It was all of Fleetwood and Barton’s own making given their antics.
All he could do was stand there, staring into the distance after seeing three big points slip through his fingers.
Here are some of the key moments from the game at the Stadium of Light ahead of another League One clash this weekend away to Coventry City. Circus time with Barton:
When Barrie McKay fired Fleetwood ahead, Barton stood in his technical area, arms crossed, nodding to all corners of the Stadium of Light, reveling in the moment. Barton is, after all, a professional wind-up merchant.
Come the 97th minute, it was a different story with a section of Sunderland fans rushing to let him know their feelings.
Again he nodded. Though inside he’d have been fuming his side let slip a huge win - and one he’d have talked about for years to come.
Sunderland were not at the races for the opening 20 minutes, all-at-sea having seen their proud clean sheet record of four straight shut-outs end.
Fleetwood are a mirror image of their manager and they knew every trick in the book as they looked to waste time and frustrate the hosts. It almost worked.
Putting two men on Lynden Gooch nullified his threat. Fleetwood were close to doing a number on Sunderland and they certainly gave Parkinson plenty to think about despite the late drama.
Pantomime villain Barton made it all about him post-match, as is his style. Like him or loathe him, Barton is never dull, though some of his comments were just downright bizarre.
Quite what Will Grigg - not in the squad - or Martin Bain - no longer at the club - had to do with anything is anyone's guess
Fleetwood were poor too but a win at the Stadium of Light would have been the biggest of his managerial career.
Thankfully Power denied him the chance to gloat.Gooch moving to left wing-back:
With two men on him, Gooch was swarmed every time he picked up possession.
In the end Parkinson opted to switch him to left wing-back after Denver Hume was subbed, the defender having been on the receiving end of a leg to the face following a sliding challenge.
Gooch had more space to operate in following the switch but he wasn’t as influential as normal.
A frustrating evening all round.Duncan Watmore’s deft touch:
Parkinson threw on all of his available forward players as the clock ticked down, Sunderland ending the game with Wyke, Lafferty, Maguire, Watmore, Semenyo and Gooch on the pitch.
Watmore has had to make do with a place on the bench in recent weeks but he made his mark late on, laying the ball off to Power to fire home.
It was a deft touch in a pressurised situation and showed he still has a role to play, even if that will, in the main, be off the bench.Max Power’s HT cone trick:
Power didn't enjoy the most effective opening 45-minutes but he made up for it with a commanding second.
The Sunderland squad were first out of the dressing rooms at half-time, Fleetwood had time-wasted throughout and their warm-up for the second half followed the same pattern.
So much so that Power went over to help their fitness coach remove the cones and bag of balls from the pitch, with force. Power setting the tone that Sunderland wouldn't stand for it.
The second half followed a similar pattern but the Black Cats kept plugging away, driven on by Power who was constantly encouraging his teammates.
It was a real captain's performance and Power got his reward.Why it was a good night for Declan John:
The Swansea City defender hasn't even made a match day squad for Sunderland, Hume keeping him out with his impressive form down the left flank.
But Tuesday was a mixed evening for Hume, he got into some good areas but his delivery wasn't always on the money.
There was a moment just before he was subbed when his turn and cross deserved more.
The pressure, however, is on with John waiting patiently for his chance.
Parkinson may consider freshening up his side after a busy spell and the left wing-back role could be one such area.
Hume has plenty of credit in the bank though following an impressive campaign after overcoming a rocky start to the 2019-20 season.
Plenty to ponder for Parkinson ahead of Sunday's lunchtime kick-off away at Coventry City. Another huge game, though this time without the pantomime villain on the touchline.