This is how it played out as Sunderland are held to a nervy draw at Plymouth Argyle

Sunderland and Plymouth Argyle played out a nervy 0-0 draw at Home Park to keep both their play-off aspirations very much alive.
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It was a game of very few chances for either side, with the hosts just about having the better of the first half before Sunderland largely took control afterwards.

Both sides looked well organised defensively and pressed well throughout, but were let down by their lack of quality in the final third.

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A relentless race for a place in the top six continues, looking increasingly likely to go right to the wire.

Sunderland and Plymouth played out a tense draw at Home Park on Easter MondaySunderland and Plymouth played out a tense draw at Home Park on Easter Monday
Sunderland and Plymouth played out a tense draw at Home Park on Easter Monday

The stakes of the game were obvious early on, a frenetic game in which the best openings were on the counter attack.

Sunderland had started brightly, only a superb covering challenge from the impressive Panutche Camara preventing Nathan Broadhead breaking into the box to get an early shot away, but Plymouth began to grow into the game and went close went Niall Ennis drew a decent stop from Patterson low to his right.

Argyle’s excellent home record was not difficult to understand, the hosts pressing aggressively and defending against long balls forward with relative ease.

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They looked the better of the sides heading towards the half hour mark, Gillesphey and Mayor both briefly worring the visitors with long-range efforts that eventually drifted wide.

They had the best chance of the half five minutes from the break, Ryan Hardie heading a good cross from Conor Grant inches wide.

Sunderland had been living dangerously but had enjoyed dangerous moments of their own, Cooper rushing off his line to prevent Stewart after Embleton’s superb long ball through the middle.

Broadhead was also breaking into some good areas on the break, but a slightly overhit pass just prevented Embleton from getting a shot away, the attacking midfielder twice shooting tamely from the edge of the area.

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Plymouth had just about enjoyed the better of a half that was opening up as it went on, but the margins were nerve-shreddingly fine.

Sunderland started the second half much the better and forced a good save from Cooper when Evans released Broadhead with a nice move in the channel, while O’Nien and Clarke could only slice their follow-up efforts wide.

The Black Cats had an impressive level of control on the hour mark, but were lacking the quality to make it count.

Plymouth did go close when Grant had an effort just inside the box deflected wide, but with the influential Camara off due to an injury it continued to be Sunderland who were dominating the contest, let down only by their composure and quality inside the final third.

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Sunderland’s momentum from early in the half began to fade in the closing stages, with the best late chance falling to the hosts who again had an effort deflected just wide, Scarr then missing a decent chance to score from the following corner at the back post.

Four minutes of stoppage time passed without either goalkeeping being forced into any action of note, reflecting a game in which ultimately neither side did quite enough to win.

Sunderland XI: Patterson; Winchester, Wright, Cirkin; O’Nien (Gooch, 73), Evans, Matete (Neil, 79), Clarke; Embleton, Broadhead, Stewart

Subs: Burge, Batth, Xhemajli, Neil, Hume, Roberts

Plymouth Argyle XI: Cooper; Gillesphey, Wilson, Scarr; Sessegnon, Camara (Randell, 64), Houghton, Grant; Mayor, Ennis (Jephcott, 76), Hardie (Garrick, 81)

Subs: Burton, Broom, Law, Crichlow

Bookings: Cirkin, 58 Evans, 84 Sessegnon, 90

Attendance: 15,800