REPORT – Sunderland AFC 1-1 Oxford United: Johnson’s side miss opportunity to go level on points with league leaders
The Black Cats failed to build on their early lead, missing the chance to go level with League One toppers Plymouth.
The Wearsiders now sit in fourth but have all the momentum heading into the crucial Christmas period and have a game in hand on some of their closest rivals.
The visitors, Oxford came from behind at the Stadium of Light to climb to seventh and extended their unbeaten run to seven games with the draw on Wearside.
Eastwood, Forde, Moore and Taylor all returned to the squad following the clubs COVID crises.
Sunderland, now unbeaten in four matches, made a quick start when exciting youngster Leon Dajaku beat his man before slotting it beyond Simon Eastwood in the Oxford net, making it 1-0 after just seven minutes.
Elliott Moore had his header saved by Thorben Hoffmann moments before Matty Taylor levelled for the U’s in the 36th minute.
The veteran full-back found the corner of the net following the cutback from Nathan Holland who pushed the returning Lynden Gooch aside with ease.
Early in the second half, Black Cats top scorer Ross Stewart hit the bar before heading straight into Eastwood’s arms from a decent opportunity. Nathan Broadhead followed suit and rattled the post for the home side who pushed for a winner.
Gooch was involved again in the closing stages after his sloppy pass nearly gave Oxford the opportunity to take the spoils. Dan Adyei’s afford was denied well by Hoffman in the Sunderland net.
An entertaining game which finished level.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sunderland had an early chance in the game when Ross Stewart was inches away from getting on the end of a cross from Gooch – Eastwood was able to claim before the ball got to the Scotsman.
The home side took the lead in the seventh minute when youth starlet Dajaku cut the ball onto his left foot and fired his shot into the far corner from inside the box.
That goal should have given Johnson’s side a platform to control the proceedings but the match became scrappy.
Oxford reacted well to going a goal down but offered little threat going forward with their direct style of play.
However, the U’s did equalise with nine minutes until the break when Gooch failed to clear the ball and Matty Taylor cleverly dispatched his shot into the far corner of the net.
Moments later Sunderland saw a penalty appeal for handball ignored when Gooch’s cross struck a defender – replays show the ball had hit the Oxford player’s chest and his arm was in a natural position.
In the second half, Sunderland came out of the block quickly with a sense of purpose and determination to get the three points.
Pritchard and Stewart combined well as Nathan Broadhead entered the box but was unable to get a shot away.
Before the hour-mark, Dajaku intercepted the ball after a mix-up between a defender and the Oxford goalkeeper. The exciting talent played the ball to Stewart who saw his shot crash back off the crossbar as Carl Winchester put the rebound narrowly over.
Minutes later, Stewart had an opportunity from a headed shot but the ball went straight down the throat of Eastwood in the Oxford goal.
As the game entered the closing stages, Gooch allowed Daniel Agyei a guilt-edged opportunity to claim the win for his side before Hoffman saved the full-backs blushes.
With ten minutes to play, Nathan Broadhead had the chance to win the game once again for the Black Cats but his effort from a tight angle wasn’t enough to put his side in front for the second time – despite clipping the woodwork.
Sunderland pushed desperately for a winner but couldn’t find a breakthrough.
A disappointing result in the end but perhaps a good point in the hunt for promotion…
Johnson’s side missed an opportunity to go top following the frustrating outcome but seem to be one of the most in-form sides heading into the hectic Christmas period – four league games unbeaten for the Wearsiders.
The Black Cats face a tricky trip to Morecambe in midweek and will be looking to extend the unbeaten streak to five and gain three points that could see them claim top spot if results go their way.
The draw with Oxford may not feel enough given the level of performance on the day but the home side added another point to their seasons tally and cemented a place in the play-off positions.
Hoffman (7), Wright (6), Flanagan (7), Doyle (6), Gooch (5), Neil (6), Pritchard (8), Winchester (6), Dajaku (8), Stewart (6). Broadhead (6)
Subs: Embleton (6), O’Brien (n/a)
MOTM: Alex Pritchard
Sunderland manager Lee Johnson:
“I thought there was effort in both halves, to be honest. We played better in the second half, but the commitment and effort was there. If you look at our bench today there’s a nice narrative – with Embo [Elliot Embleton] and Dan Neil there were seven academy graduates involved.
“But in one sense it speaks to the injury scenario and that leads to some players playing slightly out of position, so you have to credit these boys for how hard they have worked today. On another day we win it comfortably, against a very good Oxford side that caused us problems in the first half.”
“We flipped the shape in the second half, decided to have a different square peg in a round hole, and I thought it worked well but unfortunately we just couldn’t get the ball over the line – whether that be due to good goalkeeping, finishes that hit the bar and the post, or at times just failing to get that magic delivery.
“I was pleased today with the performance and with the second half. There was a shape change at half-time, we put Bailey Wright at right-back and pushed Leon Dajaku up to right midfield and dropped Lynden Gooch to left-back.
“That’s why you have to give these boys credit, because that’s Dajaku playing out of position and scoring a goal, Gooch having to play right side and then left side, and then Bailey Wright slotting in at right-back despite being on a booking which made it a bit risky, but these are the things at the moment we have to do. I was positive with the players both at half-time and at the end of the game because I know how much they are putting in and how much effort they are giving.”
Oxford manager Karl Robinson:
“If you looked at the first half I thought we were by far the better team. I thought we dominated most aspects of the game. I thought we started poorly in the first five minutes, but then we got to grips with the game and looked like a real class act. Our message at half-time was to continue doing the same things, (but) they had a change of shape and we got really sloppy.
“I’m really angry with our performance in the second half. My players know I love them, they mean the world to me, but I felt in the second half we became disjointed. You’ve got to say we’ve done well to hang on. People have a nudge at Easty sometimes, but what a second half performance that was from him. That was sensational.”
Are you pleased with the point? Can Sunderland keep the momentum going into the Christmas period and extend their run? Is Johnson the man to take the Black Cats to promotion?
Join in the conversation and have your say…
Newcastle United to Reveal New Shirt Sponsor?
footballinsider247 are reporting that the main shirt sponsor slot for Newcastle United is expected to be filled by airline SAUDI, who sponsored Newcastle’s mid-season tour of their owners’ homeland in December.
They state ‘This site revealed in February that there is frustration at St James’ Park that they have inherited a kit deal with Castore worth just £5m per year with no break clause and several seasons left to run.’
Newcastle’s recently appointed CEO Darren Eales has already previously expressed that the club at looking at all commercial opportunities and fans on Twitter were keen to mock up their expectation for the new shirts, see below and let us know your thoughts and also see our below video on how NUFC can increase commercial avenues..
Eddie Howe’s team are currently in a strong position to achieve a European slot which would increase revenue into the club allowing more spend whilst staying within Financial Fair Play which is something Howe has spoken about on several occasions as they look to stay within. If the club do reach a European slot it should help significantly with recruitment in the summer by making it a more attractive proposition to any incoming targets.
What do you think of the kits – let us know on our facebook page and join in on the conversation.
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Credit: NUFC kit concept – twitter
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Amazon filming Newcastle United for “All or Nothing” style documentary
Amazon Prime are currently filming behind-the-scenes footage at Newcastle United for a new documentary.
The docu-series will provide an insight into the club and its efforts to secure a top-four finish and a piece of silverware in the 2022-23 season.
Reports today revealed that camera crews have been filming a four-part documentary for their All or Nothing series. Sky Sports’ Keith Downie confirmed that the series will cover the club and the new owners as they attempt to qualify for the Champions League and win a trophy.
The All or Nothing series has previously documented other Premier League Clubs including Manchester City, Arsenal, and Spurs as well as the Brazilian national team, Juventus, and the All Blacks of rugby.
Something I mentioned last night on @tfNUFC: Camera crews have been filming behind-the-scenes at Newcastle United for a four-part documentary to be shown on Amazon.
The series will chart the club & its owners as they attempt to win a trophy & qualify for The Champ League #NUFC
— Keith Downie (@SkySports_Keith) February 8, 2023
Newcastle face Manchester United in the Carabao Cup final on February 26 at Wembley.
🗓️ 26.02.23@ManUtd 🆚 @NUFC #EFL | #CarabaoCup pic.twitter.com/V23zWPDoxP
— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) February 1, 2023
The Magpies have featured three times in Europe’s most prestigious competition.
Most recently in the 2003-04 season as they reached the third qualifying round, eventually losing on penalties to Serbian side FK Partizan.
The season before the Toon finished third in the 2002-03 Champions League group stages, winning twice against Bayer Leverkusen and drawing with Inter Milan 2-2 at the San Siro. The lineup that night; Given, Solano, O’Brien, Dyer, Shearer (C), Bellamy, Speed, Griffin, Hughes, Dabizas and Viana.
The series is expected to air later this year and will be available on Amazon Prime.
Based on previous seasons, you can expect exclusive access to training sessions, team meetings and match days, giving fans an in-depth look at what goes on behind the scenes on a day-to-day basis at Newcastle United.
It is set to be an incredible storyline and one that should provide fans with some real insight into what it takes to compete at the top level of professional football.
What do you think Newcastle fans?
Does this excite you or do you stand more with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp who once said the cameras could be intrusive to the dressing room when he turned down the offer from Amazon In 2018?
Join the conversation on our Facebook page…
Newcastle target rejects Everton move following £45m bid.
Everton have made a £40million bid with £5m in add-ons to sign Connor Gallagher from Chelsea.
This comes after Newcastle completed the signing of Anthony Gordon, the club’s second most expensive transfer behind Alexander Isak.
Everton received an initial fee of £40m plus add-ons that could increase the deal to £45m.
EXCL: Everton have submitted a bid to sign Conor Gallagher from Chelsea. It’s £40m proposal plus £5m add ons. 🚨🔵 #EFC
Chelsea will make a decision soon as there are also other clubs interested in Gallagher — and player has to decide his future too. pic.twitter.com/xZeuGqaR01
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 30, 2023
The Toffees currently sit 19th in the Premier League and are looking to reinvest the money from the Gordon deal to sign much-needed players under newly appointed manager Sean Dyche.
But, multiple sources have reported today that Gallagher is not actively pushing for a move and has no intention of going to Goodison Park. However, with Chelsea having met the record-breaking €120m release clause for World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez, Gallagher may be forced to leave the club if the transfer is complete.
🚨| Conor Gallagher is not interested in a move to Everton 🔵 pic.twitter.com/0CYzXjBoBd
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 30, 2023
This leaves Newcastle an option as the player would prefer a move to a top-six club.
This morning, Eddie Howe said, “We’ll see what we can do to try & bring a player in. There’s no guarantees. In terms of permanent signings, it will be very difficult. We’ll look at a potential loan. But it’s got to be the right player & not one for the sake of it”.
Due to financial fair play, the only way Newcastle could sign the player is through a loan, with an obligation to buy the player for at least £45m, the same price they paid for Anthony Gordon.
Gallagher has been playing regular Premier League football over the last two seasons. Since returning to his parent club Chelsea, the 22-year-old has been linked with a move away to numerous Premier League clubs.
Last season he was named Crystal Palace’s Player of the Season by their fans. He also won the Player of the Month award twice, Goal of the Month once, and was awarded the Young Player of Year at the 2022 London Football Awards.
In the same season, he made 36 appearances scoring eight goals and registering three assists that earned Palace a 12th-place finish, one point behind Newcastle.
Have Your Say!
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Does he start?
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