Accrington Stanley 1-1 Sunderland AFC
Accrington Stanley struck late on at the Wham Stadium to prevent Sunderland from returning to winning ways on Saturday.
Ross Stewart went close early on, but the home side provided a stern resistance in the first period and the Lads were left frustrated at the midway point.
An enforced change was required ahead of the restart as Aiden O’Brien entered the fray, and the striker announced his introduction with the opening goal on 48 minutes.
The home side refused to lay down and they regrouped after falling behind, but hopes of a comeback looked to have been dashed when Ross Sykes was sent off.
However, there was a late twist in the tail and a rare counter attack ended with an equaliser, as Mitch Clark tapped home to ensure the spoils were shared.
Lee Johnson called upon reinforcements for the Wham Stadium showdown, as Thorben Hoffmann, Bailey Wright and Leon Dajaku returned to the starting XI.
January recruit Trai Hume was also included in the matchday squad for the first time, lining up on the bench.
The Lads crafted the first opening inside six minutes, as Toby Savin produced an excellent save to claw Stewart’s header away from the top corner.
Lynden Gooch saw plenty of the ball and he linked with Dennis Cirkin midway through the first 45, but Stewart was unable to direct his header on target and the American also forced a save.
The home side threatened twice before the break and the returning Hoffmann stood up to the task, denying Colby Bishop before the resulting corner ended in a goalmouth scramble.
Dajaku fired wide following a quick dispatch from the Sunderland ‘keeper and John Coleman’s side also had penalty appeals waved away, as the opening period ended level.
The Lads were forced into a change at the break, but Alex Pritchard’s replacement made an instant impact.
Less than three minutes after his introduction, O’Brien took aim from 25 yards and his deflected effort looped over Savin and into the net in front of a packed-out away end.
Accrington responded well to falling behind and Bishop once again threatened, but the forward’s glancing header whistled just wide.
Defensive heroics from Callum Doyle followed after the hour mark, as the on-loan Manchester City defender slid in to deny a goalbound effort.
Coleman’s side were reduced to ten men when Stewart threatened to break through and Sykes cynically hauled him back, but they continued to rally and levelled on 84 minutes.
A long ball forward was misjudged by the Black Cats defence, allowing Matt Butcher to seize possession and race through on goal before squaring to Clarke for a simple finish.
Accrington Stanley: Savin, Clark, Nottingham, Sykes, Amankwah, Butcher, Hamilton, Pell, O’Sullivan (Longelo 79), McConville (Rich-Baghuelou 80), Bishop.
Subs not used: Rodgers, Isherwood, Nolan, Morgan, Malcolm.
Sunderland AFC: Hoffmann, Gooch, Wright, Flanagan, Doyle, Cirkin, Neil, Embleton, Pritchard (O’Brien 45), Dajaku, Stewart.
Subs not used: Patterson, Xhemajli, Diamond, Hawkes, T.Hume, D.Hume.