Why Lee Johnson watched Shrewsbury draw alongside Kyril Louis Dryfus plus Ross Stewart backs up Sunderland team-mate: Moments you may have missed
Sunderland were denied back-to-back league victories by a spirited Shrewsbury side at The Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium – yet Lee Johnson’s team should have been out of sight.
After taking the lead through Alex Pritchard’s excellent strike and playing the second half against 10 men following David Davis’ red card, there can be few excuses for the Black Cats.
Sunderland remain sixth in the League One table but missed the chance to close the gap on the automatic promotion places.
Here are some of the moments you may have missed:
Johnson watches from the stands
Johnson may have felt his influence was diminished as he was forced to watch the match from the stands.
The Black Cats boss received his fourth yellow card of the season during Saturday’s 2-0 win over Ipswich for appealing a decision, resulting in a one-match touchline ban.
Johnson, therefore, watched from the director’s box alongside owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, while in communication with his coaching team.
On the touchline, Phil Jevons took more of a lead role alongside Johnson’s assistant Jamie McAllister.
Johnson will be able to return to the dugout for the weekend’s trip to Cambridge.
Ross Stewart backs up his team-mate
Davis’ red card on the stroke of half-time should have given Sunderland a significant advantage.
The home fans clearly felt the decision was harsh after the midfielder challenged Nathan Broadhead, and the sending off was greeted with chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ and half-time boos directed at referee Peter Wright.
On second viewing, the tackle was reckless from Davis who flew into the challenge with both feet raised and didn’t get anywhere near the ball.
Sunderland striker Ross Stewart was the closest player to the referee and immediately appealed in defence of his team-mate.
The visitors failed to make their man advantage count in the second half, though.
Luke O’Nien injury scare
Sunderland’s shortage of full-backs meant Luke O’Nien was once again deployed on the left side of defence, with Lynden Gooch starting at right-back and Carl Winchester in midfield.
While this wasn’t his strongest performance, O’Nien’s versatility will be crucial for the Black Cats in the coming weeks, with Niall Huggins, Denver Hume and Dennis Cirkin all set to be sidelined until the new year.
And there was another scare just before half-time.
O’Nien looked in pain following a challenge from Shrewsbury forward Tom Bloxham and was limping gingerly when he eventually stood up.
Thankfully the 27-year-old was able to carry on, yet another injury would have caused further complications, with centre-backs Tom Flanagan and Frederik Alves the only defenders on the bench.
Both have played at full-back but wouldn’t be a natural fit. It’s going to be hard for Johnson to replace the defensive attributes and attacking qualities which Cirkin offered earlier in the season.
O’Nien did his best to make forays forward here, yet it’s also worth remembering he has been struggling with a shoulder issue this season and will need to have an operation at some point.
He looks set to be an important player in the coming weeks, though.