MATCH REPORT: Sunderland 1 Fleetwood Town 1

Joey Barton and Clint Hill at the Stadium of Light
Joey Barton and Clint Hill at the Stadium of Light

Fleetwood Town's unbeaten run on the road continued as they drew 1-1 at Sunderland's Stadium of Light.

Barton made one change to the side that beat Bradford 2-1 last time out with Wes Burns serving the first of his three match ban for a red card in that clash.

Conor McAleny returned to the starting line-up to take his spot on the right wing of Barton's now regular 4-4-2 formation.

Fleetwood has a population of just 26,000 and they played in front of their highest ever league crowd, 29397 filling Sunderland's home base.

It could have been a different story for Barton's men had Lynden Gooch converted in the second minute, the Sunderland man finding himself unmarked at the back stick but blasting wide with Town at sea.

But after a rocky opening five minutes Fleetwood re-grouped and Madden gave them the perfect platform.

The Town forward nodded in his third of the campaign as he pounced on Ash Hunter's corner in just the ninth minute.

That galvanised Town and shook the home faithful but despite numerous attacks Madden, Evans, McAleny and Hunter could not find a way.

And in the 23rd minute a defensive partnership that had yet to concede on the road since they were brought together for the 2-0 win at Oxford was to be broken by an injury blow.

Town skipper Craig Morgan was forced up and with left-footer Tommy Spurr the central defender on the bench Ash Eastham was moved over from his left central defensive role to the right.

But after dominating the majority of the first half Sunderland soon fought back with Cairns pulling off a fine stop to thwart Josh Maja's effort from an impossible angle on the left.

That was just Maja getting his eye in though as he diverted Gooch's cross home moments later to level the score.

Town had a big shout for a penalty waved away as Evans went down in the box under pressure from Jack Baldwin just before the break.

But just minutes into the second half Town got their penalty as left-back James Husband was ruled to have been fouled by Matthews in the box. The Sunderland man was already on a yellow card, though despite denying a goal scoring opportunity the referee did not brandish a second.

Madden stepped up but for the first time since 1989 a penalty was saved at the Stadium of Light as Jon McLaughlin dived to his left to thwart Madden.

Town went close through Evans after a neat set-piece routine by Dean Marney saw the hit-man sprint through but as the 470 plus Town fans waiting to see the net ripple were to see a rare glimpse of poor finishing from their new forward, Evans hitting the side netting.

Baldwin wasted a huge chance for the Black Cats as he diverted the ball over the bar but Town still had chances with Madden looping a header onto the roof of the net.

Substitute Spurr nodded a Hunter corner onto the crossbar but it was to be a case of valiant late defending by Town as Sunderland piled on pressure in the dying stages.

Town shot-stopper Alex Cairns showed why he was dubbed the best in the division by his boss Barton as he somehow clawed away a Jerome Sinclair effort, as the woodwork rescued Town from his follow-up.

There was late drama as Dempsey saw a shot squeeze under McLaughlin before the keeper bounced back to pounce and stop the ball trickling towards goal.

Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Coyle, Eastham, Morgan (Spurr, 23), Husband, McAleny (Dempsey, 60), Marney, Holt, Hunter (Wallace, 89), Madden, Evans. Subs not used: Jones, Long, Biggins, Sheron.

Sunderland: McLaughlin, Matthews (Flanagan, 72), Loovens, Cattermole, Maguire (Sinclair, 51), McGeouch, Honeyman, Gooch, Baldwin, Maja (Wyke, 63), Hume. Subs not used: Ruiter, Ozturk, O'Nien, James.