Sunderland battle back to take valuable point at Luton Town

Sunderland battled back to secure a point at Luton Town thanks to an excellent finish from substitute Elliot Embleton.

The Black Cats had overcome a slow start to produce a solid first-half showing but were behind when Carlton Morris scored seconds before the interval.

Tony Mowbray’s side continued to press after the interval and a spell of sustained pressure paid off when Embleton converted Clarke’s cross.

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Sunderland continued to threaten but in the end were forced to settle for a point on an afternoon when Ellis Simms also made his very welcome return from injury.

Ellis Simms made his Sunderland return at Kenilworth Road

A formidable opponent on home turf it was no surprise that Luton started the strongest, though most of their openings came from Sunderland’s own poor play on the ball. A number errors across the backline allowed Lansbury a half chance, but he drove wide before Patterson saved from Morris after another cheap giveaway.

Gradually Sunderland started to get into the game, and Horvath had to stand tall in the Luton goal to deny Clarke as he drove infield superbly from the left flank. Cirkin was first to the following corner but could only head wide.

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Luton struck the woodwork when Doughty was first to a cross, and Patterson did well again to save on the rebound. The hosts were having their fair share of set pieces but the younger goalkeeper was dealing with them impressively well. After that scare Mowbray’s side began to threaten on a regular basis, with Dajaku and Amad rotating well to cause a number of problems. Dajaku struck the post when he cut onto his left foot just inside the box, and the visitors struck the opposite post when Danny Batth was first to meet a Pritchard free kick.

Sunderland continued to test Horvath, who had to make two strong saves low to his left as Amad continued to find space on the edge of the box. They were on top as the interval approached, but in stoppage time they attempted a quick free kick forward from their own half and turned over possession. Luton worked it out to the right and Sunderland couldn’t stop the cross, Morris finding himself with an easy finish at the front post. Sunderland felt that Morris had fouled Batth in the build up to the goal and it was. sucker punch having ridden the initial wave of pressure and performed well thereafter.

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Sunderland found the opening exchanges of the second half, Luton keeping them at arm’s length with relative ease even as Mowbray began to ring the changes. The visitors were seeing plenty of the ball without creating chances, though with 20 minutes to go Amad did close when he cut inside from the right flank, moments before being replaced by Simms.

Luton were dropping deeper and Sunderland though they were about to go level after more good work from Amad, an effort from Simms deflected to the back post. Clarke met the loose ball but was denied by an outstanding block just as he pulled the trigger.

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But the tide had turned and when Clarke drove to the byline seconds later, his low cross was turned him first time by substitute Embleton.

Sunderland continued to carve out the better openings, Simms denied by another last-ditch block before an excellent team move ended with Patrick Roberts curling one just wide of Horvath’s far post.

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Sunderland XI: Patterson; O’Nien, Wright, Batth, Cirkin; Evans (Simms, 70), Neil (Michut, 60), Pritchard (Embleton, 60); Amad, Clarke, Dajaku (Roberts, 60)

Subs: Bass, Matete, Hume

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Luton Town XI: Horvath; Bree, Potts, Lockyer, Bell, Lansbury (Freeman, 30), Clark, Campbell (Bradley, 71), Doughty (Mpanzu, 71), Adebayo (Jerome, 84), Morris (Cornick, 71)

Subs: Berry, Isted, Jerome

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Bookings: Doughty, 22 Evans, 24 Adebayo, 33 Cirkin, 62 Clarke, 90

Attendance: 10,060