Two up early in the second half, but with only 10 men, Sunderland were forced onto the back foot and had to make do with a point after Birmingham fought their way back …
Normal service is Darren Bent getting on the scoresheet.
Unfortunately, it is also Sunderland players falling foul of the referee, to the extent that Lee Cattermole was sent off for his second yellow a few minutes before half time.
A second goal early in the second half – Stephen Carr into his own net (not his day, since he committed the foul that produced the dodgy penalty, could easily have been sent off later and was finally subbed to ensure he didn’t eventually see red, too) – gave Sunderland a cushion as we began an inevitably nervy second half.
Which was just as well as we then allowed Birmingham back into the game to grab two goals from Dann and Ridgewell and leave us having to settle, with no real room for complaint if reports from the Stadium of Light can be trusted, for the draw.
Not a great start, on any analysis, to Anthony Taylor’s Premier League refereeing career.
Bent scored from a penalty that replays suggested wasn’t (edge of box), though Stephen Carr seemed – from radio reports: my new internet stream let me down – lucky to escape a red for the challenge all the same.
Cattermole was sent off for what Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett, on BBC Radio Newcastle, thought were two exceedingly soft yellows. In fairness the BBC site’s main Saturday Live coverage was a lot less sympathetic, implying that he’d offended not twice but three times. Our own Pete Sixsmith was also highly critical of Cattermole after the game.
Yet Taylor went on to get many other things wrong, if the admittedly partisan(ish) commentary had it right. Carr could have gone before he was taken off. Jerome “took out” Richardson but was given a throw-in not long after Richardson himself might have been dismissed for yet another foul.
So not a great start either, then, to our season from a disciplinary point of view, especially in the light of our disgraceful record last season (nine reds, two coming in each of two games) and Cattermole’s promotion to skipper.
As City got back into the game, the surrender of our two-goal lead came as no big surprise.
Welbeck, Riveros and Waghorn all made substitute appearances, but we never sounded like regaining the ascendancy once the Blues were back in the game and Gary Bennett and Nick Barnes thought a draw was fair.
Come back over the next couple of days for Mr Sixsmith’s seven-word snap judgement (any minute now) followed by his more reflective look at what appears, on a day when Blackpool soared to the top of the Premier, a disappointing start to Sunderland’s season.