Sunderland 2-2 Millwall: Black Cats fail at home again
Last Updated: 18/11/17 6:53pm
Sunderland's winless home run extended to 20 games on Saturday as they drew 2-2 with Millwall at the Stadium of Light.
The hosts, who were watched by Chris Coleman's assistant Kit Symons ahead of the former Wales manager's imminent appointment as Black Cats boss, went ahead on 12 minutes through Lewis Grabban, but George Saville's double - both courtesy of mistakes from home goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter - turned the game on its head.
Adam Matthews equalised at the start of the second half, again thanks to a goalkeeping error, but the Wearsiders could not force a winner and remained without a home league victory since last December.
Things started positively enough for rock-bottom Sunderland. They passed the ball around confidently initially and sent over a few teasing crosses, including one that led to a corner from which they took the early lead.
Lions goalkeeper Jordan Archer got himself in a mess under his crossbar when Bryan Oviedo's corner came his way, and Grabban pounced to poke over the line. That should have given Sunderland the confidence to build and perhaps it would have had Ruiter not taken matters into his own hands five minutes later.
Saville's curling 25-yard free-kick did not look like ending in the net but Ruiter allowed the ball to squirm between his legs and across the line. Less than three minutes later he dropped another clanger, in a similar manner. This time Saville's free-kick from a more central position was only pushed into the net by the Dutch keeper.
Millwall's players could not believe their luck and they then looked more comfortable, and were happy to put Sunderland's players under greater pressure every time they touched the ball. To make matters worse, the hosts lost Duncan Watmore and Jonny Williams to injury.
Sunderland were then thankful for another goalkeeper error to get them back into the game immediately after the restart - this time from Archer. He somehow lost his bearings when Matthews darted beyond his man on the right and sent over a powerful delivery which ended up flying towards goal, where Archer could only push it into his own net.
After that there was a frenetic ending. There were chances at both ends, Ruiter making his first real save with 20 minutes remaining when he made a strong one-handed stop to deny Lee Gregory from scoring, while Grabban was inches from grabbing a winner from close range.
Sunderland caretaker Robbie Stockdale: "It is a tough job but it is a brilliant job. I've seen the speculation (about Chris Coleman) and I made it clear yesterday I was focused on this game. I'm sure tonight and in the morning there'll be discussions. I can't sit here and give you much information because my sole concentration was on the match during the week.
"We should have won it, I don't think you'll see many matches where there are so many mistakes by the keepers. When a keeper makes a mistake as the last line of defence it usually goes in your goal. You overcome the unwanted run by working a little bit harder being a little bit better, I have to say the fact we've hit that number today, it's particularly galling because we didn't deserve it."
Neil Harris: "It wasn't a day for goalkeepers. Jordan will be the joint most disappointed person in the ground along with their keeper. We'll get round him and make sure he's alright because he's been good for us this year. He's the first to admit he's made a couple of errors but that's football I guess. It was a game with quite a lot of errors in it, but that made it entertaining.
"You come here with the thought process: poor home record and no manager - but Sunderland have got some fantastic players and that's been forgotten with their poor home record and league position. We should have killed the game in the second half but we gave a poor second goal away and were under pressure because of that. We knew there would be times when the crowd would go against them. The first 15 minutes of the second half was vital and it was backs to the wall after conceding that second goal."