Jon McLaughlin penalty save keeps Sunderland's unbeaten record intact on frustrating afternoon

Jon McLaughlin's penalty save secured a point for Sunderland
Jon McLaughlin's penalty save secured a point for Sunderland
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Sunderland kept their unbeaten record intact against Fleetwood Town but were again left frustrated with a point on home turf.

It could have been worse, with Jon McLaughlin denying Paddy Madden from the penalty spot early in the second half.

The Black Cats again fought back from conceding an early goal and looked the more likely to win it in the final stages, but they couldn't force a winner for the second week in succession.

Jack Ross had played down talk of their being a major problem with Sunderland starting games slowly before the game.

He had admitted, however, that his team were still adjusting to the frenetic nature of League One football.

"The whistle goes and all hell breaks loose," he said.

So it proved again.

Lynden Gooch fired wide early on but it was Fleetwood Town who were doing all the running. They ought to have scored six minutes in when Ashley Hunter danced round the goalkeeper, but overhit his cross, Ched Evans unable to connect just yards from goal.

Three minutes later they were ahead, Paddy Madden converting a simple header at the near post from a corner.

They continued to push and should have had a second when Evans again failed to connect with the goal gaping, this time it was Madden whose cross was just out of his reach.

Sunderland looked rattled but Fleetwood began to lose their intensity and finally the Black Cats were able to find gaps to exploit.

Josh Maja served notice of his intent when he found space down the left, driving at goal and denied by a good save. The Black Cats kept the ball alive and Lee Cattermole headed a cross from Adam Matthews just over.

Within minutes they were level. Sunderland again found joy down the left flank, where Denver Hume was causing problems, and George Honeyman crossed to the near post. Maja's touch was deft and the ball dropped in at the far post.

Fleetwood needed the break and early in the second half, they missed a glorious chance to take the lead again.

Adam Matthews made a rash challenge in the box, the referee pointing straight to the spot.

Evans stepped up to take it but was replaced by Madden, who missed as McLaughlin made a strong save low to his left.

It was another slow start to a half from Sunderland, however, and Evans should have scored when they were caught cold by a quick free-kick, the striker firing into the side netting.

Despite their slack start, the Black Cats then created their best chance of the game as Honeyman again space down the left. His cross was perfect but Jack Baldwin somehow turned the ball over the bar.

Fleetwood began to fade as they had done in the first half, and the hosts were desperately unfortunate not to force a winner.

Cairns made an outstanding save to push a Tom Flanagan header wide, before Loovens struck the post from the following corner.

By this stage Fleetwood had settled for a point, killing time wherever possible.

Sunderland pushed for a winner but in the end were forced to settle for a frustrating point.

Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; Matthews (Flanagan, 72), Loovens, Baldwin, Hume; McGeouch, Honeyman, Cattermole; Gooch, Maguire (Sinclair, 51), Maja (Wyke, 63)

Subs: Ruiter, Ozturk, O'Nien, James

Fleetwood Town XI: Cairns; Coyle, Morgan (Spurr, 23), Eastham, Husband; McAleny (Dempsey, 60), Holt, Marney, Hunter (Wallace, 89); Madden, Evans

Subs: Jones, Long, Biggins, Sheron, Wallace

Bookings: Coyle, 12 Baldwin, 14 Spurr, 32 Matthews, 32 Cairns, 80 Hunter, 81 Husband, 90 Cattermole, 90

Attendance: 29,367