North East UK news Sunderland's late slip at Doncaster leaves Phil Parkinson still searching for another turning point MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - Sunderland were heading for a much-needed victory at the Keepmoat until an injury-time equaliser cost them two points
Breaking News ! Doncaster was the turning point for Phil Parkinson at the end of December. Sunderland's win at the Keepmoat - allied to an impressive performance - probably saved his job after a wretched start to his reign that had seen him notch just two wins in 14 games in all competitions. But the victory against Doncaster marked the beginning of a renaissance which saw the Black Cats win nine of their next 13 matches and lose only one. Read More Related Articles Phil Parkinson laments 'cruel' blow as Sunderland concede late equaliser at Doncaster Fast forward to this weekend, and Sunderland - and Parkinson - again arrived in South Yorkshire needing a change of fortune, albeit their need was not nearly so desperate as it was 11 months ago. They were not languishing in 15th place in the table, for a start. Also, last weekend's defeat against MK Dons in the league on the back of a couple of disappointing cup results, one of which was a dead rubber because Sunderland had already qualified for the next stage of the EFL Trophy, hardly amounts to a crisis. But nevertheless, the MK Dons defeat had prompted a wave of criticism and a win was needed to calm the jitters back on Wearside. And for 92 minutes and 30 seconds on Saturday, it was all going according to plan at the Keepmoat. Parkinson had switched from the 3-5-2 he has used much of this term to the 3-4-3 that worked so well in the second half of last season, and Sunderland had produced a disciplined and controlled performance against an underpowered Doncaster side. They should have reached half-time at least a couple of goals to the good, but referee John Busby's inexplicable decision to turn down their appeals for a penalty when Lynden Gooch was flattened by Joe Wright meant they had to settle for a single-goal lead, courtesy of Grant Leadbitter's 25-yard rocket shot which is bound to be a contender for goal of the season. Sunderland were by far the better side in the first half, but they have struggled for goals this season and they couldn't get the second they needed to kill the game off.
. Doncaster had offered little more than a few long-range pot-shots all game, and that made events right at the death even harder to take. With the game in the final minute of added time, one defensive slip allowed Doncaster to put the ball in the penalty area one final time, but with three defenders on the scene it should have been no problem. Yet somehow the ball seemed to get stuck under Bailey Wright's feet, and Fejiri Okenabihirie was on hand to accept the gift inside the six yard area. It meant Doncaster claimed a point that they did not deserve, and it put the spotlight back on Busby' earlier penalty call. For Sunderland, it meant that instead of climbing to fourth place, a point outside the automatic promotion places and closing to within three points of leaders Hull, they slipped a place to eighth. They are now three points outside the automatic promotion places, with a game in hand of second-placed Peterborough. After the final whistle, Parkinson was left to rue the 'cruel' twist at the death, and was able to point to the improved performance, saying '[the] first half was the best we've played for a long time.'
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That improvement in performance may yet turn out to be a turning point of sorts, although whether that is the case will only become clear over the next few games. But it was not the win he needed, and that means there will be more criticism heading his way this week in the build-up to Friday's game at Fleetwood Town. Only when the goals start flowing and the wins start coming on a regular basis will the pressure begin to ease.
Source = MetiNews.Com