The story of the game as penalty miss proves costly for Sunderland against Rotherham
A missed penalty from Aiden McGeady proved cosrly as Sunderland were forced to settle for a point against Rotherham United.
Sunderland dominated the opening exchanges of the game and looked well placed to capitalise on an early strike from Marc McNulty.
But McGeady’s miss turned the flow of the game and though Charlie Wyke missed a glorious late chance to win it, the visitors were more than worthy of the point they earned through Jake Hastie’s emphatic equaliser.
The Black Cats had got themselves into the lead with little more than 30 seconds on the clock, Alim Ozturk smartly spotting an opportunity after being fouled in the air.
From midway inside his own half, he sprung McNulty free with a precise ball over the top. McNulty did superbly to spot the opening and gather, rounding the goalkeeper and taking a moment to compose himself before calmly converting.
Ross had sprung a small surprise with his starting XI, Luke O’Nien pushed further foreard with Chris Maguire on the bench.
Just as it had done against Burnley in the Carabao Cup a few weeks ago, it changed the profile of the team considerably.
They had more energy in the frontline and pressed Rotherham’s defence well, opening up some promising attacks by pouncing on loose balls.
They perhaps lacked a touch composure in possession, but were in the ascendancy and had the visitors on the ropes.
They went close to a second when McGeady gathered a goal kick from Jon McLaughlin, driving to the the blyine and crossing low. McNulty played a smart dummy but O’Nien could only fire over the bar on his weaker foot.
Moments later, McGeady cut inside from the left and forced an excellent save from Daniel Iversen, flying high towards his top left corner.
They ought to have got the second goal their play deserved when McNulty again sprang clear this time released by Jordan Willis. McNulty took a touch to free Gooch, who was chopped down as he entered the box.
McGeady stepped up but Iversen spotted the feint late in his approach and had an easy save just to his right.
The Black Cats almost paid for that before the break, with Rotherham missing a flurry of chances to level.
Firstly, Freddie Ladapo headed a cross from Jake Hastie straight at Jon McLaughlin, and the Scot was fortunate moments later when his indecision coming off his line allowed Hastie to burst past him. He looked to cross from a team-mate but Ozturk did well to step in and clear.
Their bast chance came when a corner from the right dropped to the back post, centre-back Matt Crooks heading wide from a matter of yards out.
McGeady did almost atone for his penalty miss just before the interval, driving at goal after a woeful clearance from Iversen. His curling effort had the goalkeeper scrambling but dropped just wide of the post.
Rotherham began the second half the better of the two sides and McLaughlin had to do superbly to block another effort from Hastie when he raced through on goal.
The Rangers loanee had been a threat throughout the contest and finally got the breakthrough when Rotherham broke down the right. Freddie Ladapo played him into space and he McLaughlin couldn’t stop his firm effort flying into the roof of the net.
The Black Cats looked to have lost their shape and Rotherham were on top, but they missed a golden opportunity to go back ahead when substitute Charlie Wyke went through on goal after a defender slipped.
His effort was blocked by Iversen, and McGeady fired just wide after O’Nien gathered the loose ball and crossed.
Eager to avoid the kind of resulted that so often stalled Sunderland’s progress last season, Ross threw hos most attacking options on, but there was little sign of the quality needed to make a breakthrough from either side.
Six minutes of stoppage time passed without opening and left the home side to rue that miss from the spot.
Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; McLaughlin, (Maguire, 69) Ozturk, Willis, Hume; Gooch (Grigg, 84), McGeouch, Dobson, O’Nien, McGeady; McNulty (Wyke, 59)
Subs: Burge, Power, Flanagan, Leadbitter
Rotherham United XI: Iversen, Olosunde, Robertson, Ihiekwe, Mattock; Wiles, Linday, Crooks; Hastie (MacDonald, 88), Morris (Smith, 80), Ladapo (Barlaser, 90)
Subs: Price, Wood, Lamy, Jones
Bookings: Dobson, 29 McLaughlin, 40 McGeady, 77