Garbutt strikes again but Blues held
Luke Garbutt scored for the second successive game but Blues had to settle for a point against promotion favourites Sunderland.
The Everton loanee, who grabbed Town’s winner at Burton last weekend, fired into the far corner on 15 minutes to give Blues the perfect start.
Garbutt threatened a second soon after as Town dictated the first-half but the Black Cats improved after the break and Lynden Gooch’s close range finish after the hour gave them a share of the spoils.
Town made just one change to the side that beat Burton on the opening day of the season, skipper Luke Chambers returning with James Wilson dropping to the bench.
Kayden Jackson went down under a challenge in the box in the first few minutes but with the crowd calling for a penalty referee Neil Hair reached for a yellow card instead, much to the annoyance of all in blue.
The blue mood changed on the quarter hour though, Garbutt bursting through into the danger area and then finding the net from an acute angle with his right foot.
Garbutt almost found James Norwood with a long range pass, the swirling wind taking the ball away from the striker, Garbutt seeing his free-kick deflected wide, then the Everton loanee turned provider for Cole Skuse, whose volley was blocked, Norwood just wide with a follow up effort.
Jon McLaughlin’s fingertips did enough to take Danny Rowe’s cross away from Norwood as Town threatened a second, Skuse releasing Jackson as Blues countered, his cross cleared as Rowe looked to convert from close range.
Garbutt was denied a second by McLaughlin, the wide player going over in a challenge as he looked to get in for the rebound, referee Hair brushing away the appeals, then Norwood’s effort was blocked by Tom Flanagan.
Garbutt was forced off seven minutes before the break with injury, Alan Judge the replacement and the Republic of Ireland international immediately tested McLaughlin with a curler from the angle of the box.
Chris Maguire replaced Denver Hume at the break in Sunderland’s first change, Marc McNulty racing clear from Dylan McGeouch’s pass as the second-half got underway but the offside flag was raised, the former Portsmouth striker then inches away from a cross as the Black Cats looked for an early equaliser.
On 64 minutes, Sunderland were level, Gooch sidefooting in from close range after McNulty had opened up Blues down the right.
Norwood was denied again as Town looked for an immediate response, Luke Woolfenden doing superbly to find space down the right, his cross too heavy for Norwood at the far post.
Norwood’s shot lacked power, Gooch’s effort the same at the other end before Will Grigg was handed the last 20 minutes, Aiden McGeady making way.
Gooch almost found McNulty’s darting run inside the box before Andre Dozzell replaced Rowe in Town’s second change, Conor McLaughlin then escaping down the Sunderland left but his cross was wayward with McNulty free.
Tomas Holy gathered at the second attempt from Maguire’s cross as the points hung in the balance, Chambers throwing himself at a cross in the Black Cats’ box with Judge testing McLaughlin with a strike in added on time.
Town: Holy, Donacien, Chambers, Woolfenden, Kenlock, Rowe (Dozzell 78), Skuse, Downes, Garbutt (Judge 38), Jackson (Roberts 89), Norwood. Subs not used: Norris, Wilson, Roberts, El Mizouni, Huws.
Sunderland: J.McLaughlin, C.McLaughlin, Willis (Ozturk 83), McGeouch, McNulty, Gooch, Flanagan, O’Nien, Dobson, McGeady (Grigg 73), Hume (Maguire 46). Subs not used: Burge, Power, Embleton, Leadbitter. Booked: Dobson.
Att: 24, 051