Shrewsbury Town 1 Sunderland 1: Cats drop more points in League One promotion battle

Sunderland were held to a desperately disappointing draw on Shrewsbury night, despite playing the entire second half with an extra man.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 10:00 pm

Lee Johnson’s side looked to be in complete control at the break when David Davis was shown a red card, having taken the lead through an excellent Alex Pritchard strike.

But Dan Udoh’s excellent strike from the edge of the area levelled the scores on the hour mark, and after that the visitors laboured in search of a winner.

Though Nathan Broadhead hit the post at the start of stoppage time with an instinctive volley, the home side were largely comfortable and their goalkeeper Marko Marosi largely untroubled.

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Dan Udoh scores the equaliser for Shrewsbury

It was poor performance from Sunderland, who struggled to assert their dominance and carve out any real chances.

Johnson had named an attacking side as he looked to build on the momentum of that Ipswich win, with Lynden Gooch moving to right back and Carl Winchester slotting into midfield alongside Dan Neil.

Sunderland controlled possession through the opening stages but perhaps unsurprisingly, looked a little disjointed off it.

With no senior full backs fit, the challenge was always going to be in shackling Shrewsbury’s two wing backs.

Steve Cotterill had been hit by more injuries in the build up to the game, leaving him without experienced defenders Aaron Pierre and Ethan Ebanks-Landell. And though they came into the game mired in a relegation battle, their form had been relatively strong and it was clear they would pose a threat.

They had the first meaningful effort when Ogbeta was able to burst into the box from the left, his effort just wide of the near post.

The home side came even closer when Winchester was robbed on the ball five minutes later, the referee waving away his appeals for a foul. Shrewsbury broke quickly, and Ryan Bowman’s effort was deflected just wide. Thorban Hoffmann was well beaten.

Sunderland began to stir, Stewart almost getting the opener when pouncing on a poor attempt for the hosts to play out from the back. His touch was just too strong as he made the interception, and the danger cleared.

Before long the Black Cats did have the lead.

Pritchard, operating off the left, was finding plenty of space in the channel behind Shrewsbury’s wing back and when he cut inside from a throw in, he found no opposition.

The attacking midfielder kept driving forward and on the edge of the area curled an outstanding effort into the far corner.

Shrewsbury kept pushing forward, and Hoffmann had to do well to cleanly gather another good effort from Ogbeta.

That left flank was proving to be something of an issue for Johnson’s side, whop were struggling to prevent former Manchester City youngster from driving towards the box.

It was a tough brief for Gooch, but he almost scored an outstanding effort at the other end when cutting in from the right at the other end. His left-footed effort looked destined for the top corner, but Marosi did very well to tip onto the post and wide.

There continued to be very little between the two sides as half-time approached, but at the start of three minutes added time the visitors were handed a significant boost.

Broadhead had been booked moments before for an off-the-ball tangle with Luke Leahy, and that perhaps was in Davis’ mind when the Everton loanee took a heavy touch seconds later.

The midfielder flew in off both feet, and after a pause the referee sent him off.

Despite their numerical disadvantage Cotterill’s side started the second half well, young striker Bloxham firing just over from the edge of the area after good play from Pyke.

The hosts were showing no sign of attempting to sit in until the latter stages, and that left Sunderland with chances on the break.

Neil, tidy in possession throughout, went close with a strong effort of his own on the edge of the area.

They went even closer when Pritchard again cut in from the left, his cross nodded just wide of the far post by Stewart at full stretch.

By now the visitors were dominant, Pritchard and then O’Nien going close as Johnson’s side found time and space to carve open the home defence.

A second looked inevitable, but Shrewsbury carved out a major opening of their own when Ogbeta again burst into the box. His cross was inches away from Bowman at the back post, a notable let off for the visitors.

Cotterill’s side were encouraged and after a period of pressure, were level with half an hour to play.

Sunderland failed to clear their lines from a long throw and when it bounced for Udoh on the edge of the area, he thumped an effort past Hoffmann.

For a spell it looked as if Shrewsbury had the extra player, and even when Johnson’s side reasserted themselves in terms of possession and territory, the end product was nowhere near good enough.

The Black Cats did have one or two chances late on, with O’Nien denied by Marosi and Broadhead striking the post, but in truth it was far too comfortable for the home side.

In the end it was hard to argue that they did not deserve their point on a deeply frustrating night for the Black Cats.

Sunderland XI: Hoffmann; Gooch (Dajaku, 74), Wright, Doyle, O’Nien; Winchester, Neil; Pritchard (McGeady, 74), O’Brien (Evans, 61), Broadhead, Stewart

Subs: Flanagan, Alves, Embleton, Patterson

Shrewsbury Town XI: Marosi; Pennington, Bloxham (Cosgrove, 83), Nurse, Leahy; Pyke, Vela, Davis, Ogbeta; Udoh, Bowman

Subs: Burgoyne, Caton, Leshabela, Wilson, Kaninda, Craig

Bookings: Broadhead, 44

Red Card: Davis, 45

Attendance: 6,253