Report: Lads held to draw after late penalty

Fleetwood Town 2-2 Sunderland AFC

Sunderland were denied victory at Fleetwood Town by a late equaliser after leading 2-0 at Highbury Stadium.

Ross Stewart’s bullet header began proceedings 19 minutes in, before Aiden McGeady scored from the penalty spot to double the Lads’ advantage.

Callum Morton pulled one back late on for a determined Cods side, before Ged Garner’s late penalty of their own stole the home team a point at the death.

Lee Johnson made one enforced change for the visit to Lancashire, with Tom Flanagan’s suspension for five bookings meaning Bailey Wright came in for his first league start of the campaign.

The game began with a tenacious edge, as Stewart’s header was swallowed by Alex Cairns in the Fleetwood goal, before Thorben Hoffmann produced a triple intervention to deny Morton and further prevent the danger of a threatening Cods attack.

It proved crucial just moments later too, as the Scotsman netted his fifth of the season with a bullet header from Elliot Embleton’s free-kick delivery from the right-hand side, the Sunderland crowd sent into elation.

The Lads played with a real swagger throughout the first half, McGeady and Dan Neil both firing just off target, with a Garner shot about all Fleetwood could muster before the break following the opener.

The second half began with an improved spell from Simon Grayson’s side, who went close when Callum Camps won the ball but elected to attempt a square pass rather than test Hoffmann. Sunderland then responded with a roaring McGeady strike inside the area, which was well saved by Cairns.

Hoffmann produced another fine save via a crucial Carl Winchester challenge when Morton looked to be in behind, as Fleetwood ramped up the pressure during the second 45 – Corry Evans returning from injury to come on for the final quarter of the game.

McGeady and Lynden Gooch both had attempts – the latter being denied by Cairns at his near post – before the referee awarded a spot-kick to the Lads as Luke O’Nien was pushed in the area whilst meeting a deep cross.

The winger stepped up and made no mistake, with Cairns’ touch not enough to keep out the right-footed strike.

Fleetwood were not to be pushed over lightly, and pulled one back with 10 minutes to go as Morton found himself through and slotted the ball low into the net for 2-1.

The chase continued for the hosts, who were denied by another stunning Hoffmann save and Evans’ goal-line block in stoppage time, before a penalty was given as the Lads were penalised in Fleetwood’s last attack.

Garner side-footed into the back of the net to win Grayson’s side a point, with the Lads looking to return to winning ways at Wigan Athletic in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.

SUNDERLAND AFC: Hoffmann; Winchester, Wright, Doyle, Cirkin; O’Nien, Neil (Evans 66’); Gooch, Embleton (Broadhead 72’), McGeady © (Alves 88’); Stewart.

Subs not used: Burge, Huggins, Dajaku, Pritchard.

Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Andrew, Clarke, Morton, Camps, Rossiter ©, G. Garner, Hill, Johnson, Biggins (Lane 76’), Clark (J. Garner 46’).

Subs not used: Crellin, Edmondson, Matete, Baggley, Conn-Clarke.

Attendance: 4,250

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