Sunderland's promotion momentum checked in tense draw with lively Lincoln City side
The tension told you that now we are at the business end of the season.
Both teams threw everything at finding a winner, moments of quality and moments of panic making for a frantic conclusion.
In the end it was a point that represented momented checked ever so slightly for Sunderland, though the way they had been tested by an energetic Lincoln side meant it could have been worse.
Callum McFadzean’s first half goal was cancelled out by Callum Morton’s fine effort, and some fine saves from Lee Burge prevented the visitors finding a winner.
With results elsewhere falling their way to an extent, it felt like a point ultimately in the right direction.
Lincoln’s form had dipped coming into the game but the memory of a tense, tight semi-final last month was fresh and right from the opening exchanges, it was clear that this would be a stern test for the Black Cats.
The star (insert inverted commas) of the early minutes of the game was nevertheless the referee, somehow failing to notice a clear foul on Carl Winchester as Charlie Wyke sprung him clear on goal.
There were a raft of dubious decisions thereafter, a sequence of pedantic interventions preventing the game from developing any real rhythm.
It was Sunderland who drew the first real save of the game, Alex Palmer doing well to get down low to his right and turn a long-range effort from Grant Leadbitter wide.
Lincoln, though, moved the ball quickly through the lines and were an obvious threat.
They were sensing a chance to break quickly down Sunderland’s right and only the excellence of Conor McLaughlin denied them a real opening.
It was the visitors who should have taken the lead twenty minutes in, breaking swiftly after a poor Luke O’Nien clearance. Regan Poole broke into the box but with the better option being to play a square pass, he took on the shoot and Burge did well to deny him at the near post.
Sunderland were struggling to build pressure but towards the end of the half that began to change.
A wonderful early switch of play from Power released McGeady, who turned away from his marker in the box before firing over the bar.
Another superb delivery from Power moments later saw the deadlock broken, an early cross to the back post nodded into the bottom corner by McFadzean.
The Black Cats started the second half well but found themselves pegged back with half an hour to play when a hoepful ball forward found Callum Morton. The striker did well to turn away from O’Nien, thumping home a low drive as Sanderson tried to close him down.
Buoyed by their equaliser, Lincoln pushed forward and should have taken the lead when Morgan Rogers powered towards the byline. He did well to pick out Bramall but with the goal gaping, his low effort was straight at the recovering Burge.
Sunderland did well to find their footing, slowly taking back some control as Johnson’s changes began to take affect.
They needed Burge to bail them out again, however, minutes from the end as some slack defending allowed Rogers to fire a close-range volley towards goal.
Both teams committed bodies forward in search of a winner, but the draw was ultimately fair.