Sunderland battle back from dire first half to salvage a point at Ipswich Town
Sunderland drew 1-1 once again at Portman Road, though it took a much improved second half dispay to rescure a point against Ipswich Town.
The Black Cats finished the game strongly after Lynden Gooch got them back on level terms, recovering from a woeful first half in which they were comprehensively outplayed by Paul Lambert's side.
From the off conditions had been challenging, winds swirling across the Portman Road pitch.
An early sign of that came as Tomas Holy, one of the biggest kickers in the league, saw his long pass barely reach the halfway line. Both sides struggled to hold onto possession as a result, though the home side were quickly in the ascendancy.
They pressed aggressively and forced a number of poor passes, with strikers James Norwood and Kayden Jackson causing problems with their abrasive approach. Jackson felt he should have had a penalty when he drove into the space between Denver Hume and Tom Flanagan, though as he crumbled in front of Flanagan, the referee booked him for diving.
Sunderland did begin to regain some composure but just as they began to enjoy some territory, they were behind.
They switched off from a throw in and Ipswich pounced, winger Garbutt drifting over from the left wing and attacking the same space that Jackson had found ten minutes earlier. His touch was superb and though the angle looked too tight to score, his low effort found its way through the legs of Jon McLaughlin.
Buoyed by that goal, Paul Lambert’s side continued to push Sunderland back, and the Black Cats were indebted to George Dobson as his fine block prevented Cole Skuse from turning a corner home. Norwood pounced on the loose ball but smashed his effort wide.
Unable to get up the pitch, Ross shuffled his pack and moved Luke O’Nien further forward. It worked to an extent, the game more level as they finally got their first shot on target, Lynden Gooch driving an effort wide after collecting a short corner from Aiden McGeady.
Their slackness on the ball continued to encourage Ipswich, though, and they were fortunate that when Conor McLaughlin stepped on the ball as he gathered a goal kick, substitute Alan Judge could only curl an effort straight at Jon McLaughlin.Judge replaced goalscorer Garbutt, who had picked up an injury, but it did little to disrupt their rhythm as they continued to dominate and in the end the Black Cats were fortunate to reach the break still in the game.
Ross unsurprisingly changed it up at the break, dropping O’Nien to full back again and replacing Denver Hume with Chris Maguire. The youngster had struggled and the switch allowed the away side to match up with Ipswich’s 4-4-2.
Though chances remained at a premium, the second half was far more even and Sunderland for their reward for an improved showing just after the hour mark, even if Lambert’s defence were firmly the architects of their own downfall.
Luke Chambers tried to shield a long ball out of play, but was bundled out the way by the persistence of Marc McNulty. The striker showed good composure to slide the ball across goal and Gooch thumped home the finish.
By now it was a blood and thunder encounter, swinging from end to end with both sides pushing for the win.
Ross went for the win and with Aiden McGeady short of match fitness, WIll Grigg was thrown on for the final 20. On more than one occasion Sunderland went close to carving out a chance, Grigg just unable to gather a Gooch pass before Conor McLaughlin hit a poor cross as McNulty closed in on goal.The away side saw their balance affected when Jordan Willis, impressive in the second half, was replaced due to injury.
They were able to see three minutes of stoppage time through and secure another 1-1 draw, but one that seemed very unlikely at one stage.
Sunderland XI: McLaughlin; McLaughlin, Willis (Ozturk, 84), Flanagan; O’Nien, McGeouch, Dobson, Hume (Maguire, 45); McGeady (Grigg, 74), Gooch, McNulty
Subs: Burge, Power, Embleton, Leadbitter
Ipswich Town XI: Holy; Donacien, Chambers, Woolfenden, Kenlock; Rowe, Downes, Skuse (Dozzell, 79), Garbutt (Judge, 38); Norwood, Jackson (Roberts, 90)
Subs: Norris, Wilson, El Mizouni, Huws
Bookings: Jackson, 5 Dobson, 61
Attendance: 24,051 (1,847 away)