This remarkable Sunderland record came to an end against Lincoln City as a major off-field improvement is noted
Thousands of Sunderland fans will have watched the draw with Lincoln City via live streams – but there are those few moments that the cameras don’t capture.
We take a look at some of the moments you might have missed from the crucial League One triumph – from a remarkable record that came to an end to a notable improvement off the field.
Just weeks ago, there were some major concerns over the state of the Stadium of Light pitch.
Things came to a head when Plymouth Argyle were in town, with the game surviving a number of pitch inspections after heavy rainfall. Lee Johnson then questioned the state of the playing surface post-match, before national reports shortly after suggested that new owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus was set to invest in a new state-of-the-art pitch.
But while those improvements may come in the long-term, much credit needs to go to the ground staff for the way they have reinvigorated the pitch in the short-term.
Having not played on home soil for a fortnight, the Stadium of Light surface has had some time to recover from a hectic schedule – and it looked vastly improved for the game against Lincoln City.
Superb work from the team who tend to it, and it certainly allowed for some fluid football to be played at times.
CARL BOYESON STEALS THE SHOW
Football was almost a sideshow in the opening few minutes of the game, as referee Carl Boyeson took centre stage.
There were only a few minutes on the clock when Boyeson began to lecture Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson as he vociferously protested the decision to not penalise a pull-back on Carl Winchester when he looked to break through on goal.
It was a clear foul, and a decision that infuriated Sunderland.
And Boyeson wouldn’t endear himself to the home side any further during a busy opening period for the man in the middle.
He pedantically moved corners an inch – if that – into the quadrant while also favouring blasting his whistle multiple times in order to get players’ attention.
His impact was less evident in the second half, although there were still some key moments that angered Sunderland – no more so than play being called back for a supposed handball as Aiden McGeady broke through on goal.
It was telling that Johnson waited to speak with the official on the full-time whistle, and it was an indifferent display at best from Boyeson.
A NEW ROLE FOR CARL WINCHESTER
Winchester has been one of the stars of Sunderland’s recent results, and was impressive in the midweek over Accrington.
So it was no surprise to see him handed another start against the Imps – although it was a surprise to see him handed the role he was.
By far the most advanced of the midfield trio, Winchester almost played as a second striker at times during the first-half and there were some times where he linked-up well with Charlie Wyke.
But this was far from his best display in a Sunderland shirt, and he certainly looks more suited to a deeper role.
It would be no surprise, therefore, to see the winter signing return to that position when the likes of Aiden O’Brien and Ross Stewart are ready to start games.
THE NEW ANTHEM FOR SUNDERLAND
As Sunderland have progressed through their unbeaten run, the sound of Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’ blasting from the changing room has become a familiar sight.
And the squad favourite was blasted out twice during the clash with Lincoln City – once pre-match, and once at half-time.
Sadly, it wasn’t aired at full-time as Sunderland failed to secure another three points.
But given how they have bounced back in the past, it would be no surprise if Daft Punk are featuring on the post-match playlist again in the near future.
CHARLIE WYKE’S CLOSE CALL
This often felt like a game in which a red card was inevitable.
And for a moment in the second half, it looked like Wyke may be the unfortunate party.
The striker had been booked in the first half and was involved in some tasty tussles after the interval. One of those incidents, with centre back Lewis Montsma, earned Wyke a long talking to from referee Boyeson.
Thankfully, no card wad flashed – but there were plenty of hearts in mouths at that moment!
THE REMARKABLE SUNDERLAND RUN THAT CAME TO AN END
Sunderland’s two league games prior to the visit of Lincoln had seen the side fail to concede a shot on target.
It’s a remarkable record, especially when you consider those games came against two sides with play-off ambitions in Portsmouth and Accrington.
But that run came to an end against Lincoln – in a game in which Lee Burge was certainly busy.
He did well to deny Regan Poole in the first half before then superbly denying both Cohen Bramhall and Morgan Rodgers after the break.
For all Lincoln were without some key players in Jorge Grant and Tom Hopper, their forward line was packed with pace and power and were tricky for Sunderland to deal with.
But Burge continued his fine form of late to keep them at bay, particularly during a tricky spell just after the Imps levelled the scores.
The stopper has firmly established himself as Sunderland’s number and has been impressive in recent weeks. That level of performance will need to continue if Sunderland are to maintain their promotion push.