Late Roberts stunner keeps Sunderland’s Championship play-off hopes alive
Sunderland came from behind to draw 2-2 with Watford in the Sky Bet Championship inside an electric Stadium of Light.
Watford took the lead through captain Christian Kabasele inside the opening 20 minutes, before Ryan Porteous doubled the Hornets’ lead midway through the second half.
Luke O’Nien pulled a goal back with 20 minutes to play before Patrick Roberts’ superb effort from the edge of the box inside added time grabbed the Black Cats a vital point.
Tony Mowbray made one change to his starting line-up, winger Roberts replacing Abdoullah Ba for the final league home match of the season.
Sunderland started confidently; Pierre Ekwah’s drilled shot from the edge of the box forced Daniel Bachmann into an early save.
Amad came within inches of finding Bachmann’s near post inside the first 10 minutes from a free kick won by Joe Gelhardt 25 yards out. The attacker’s effort agonisingly curled the wrong side of Bachmann’s post.
Watford took the lead against the run of play on 17 minutes, Kabasele rising highest to head Imran Louza’s corner past Anthony Patterson.
Roberts almost brought the hosts level after smartly jinking his way through the Hornets’ defence, but his effort rolled inches wide of Bachmann’s far post.
Bachmann was alert to deny Trai Hume’s goal-bound header in the opening stages of the second half, but Amad directed the close-range rebound wide.
Watford doubled their lead midway through the second half, defender Porteous losing his marker to head Louza’s corner past Patterson.
The Black Cats almost instantly pulled a goal back when O’Nien was left unmarked inside the Watford danger area, but his header came crashing back off Bachmann’s crossbar.
O’Nien was perfectly placed inside Watofrd’s six-yard box seconds later to wrong-foot Bachmann and direct Alex Pritchard’s cross into the back of the visitors’ net with 20 minutes of normal time remaining.
Sunderland continued to apply the pressure inside the final 10 minutes, Dennis Cirkin picked out Clarke in an advanced position down the left-hand side, but the winger failed to keep his shot on target.
The hosts pinned Watford back and equalised deep into added time, Clarke found Roberts who spectacularly curled his strike from the edge of the box into Bachmann’s top corner from 18 yards out.
The point keeps Sunderland in seventh place just two points outside of the play-off places. The Black Cats face Preston North End at Deepdale in their final Sky Bet Championship fixture of the season.
Sunderland XI: Patterson, Gooch ©, Hume, O’Nien, Cirkin, Neil (Michut 75’), Ekwah (Pritchard 58’), Roberts, Amad, Clarke, Gelhardt (Ba 75′)
Substitutes: Bass, Lihadji, Anderson, Taylor.
Watford XI: Bachmann, Andrews (Hoedt 88’), Porteous, Kabasele ©, Choudhury, Kamara, Asprilla (Bacuna58’), Sarr (Ngakia 82’), Sema, Louza, Davis.
Substitutes: Hamer, Kone, Araujo, Morris.