Honeyman 55, McGeady 62


Kee 30 (pen), Smyth 52

ACCRINGTON Stanley scored their first goals of 2019 in a pulsating clash with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

The Reds deservedly led 2-0 thanks to goals from Billy Kee and the excellent Paul Smyth before the Black Cats stormed back and John Coleman’s side showed great character to hang on for a much needed point.

Smyth was a livewire throughout the contest; a willing runner ready to go wide or get in behind the Black Cats defence.

As early as the second minute, he forced the home defence in to an error and saw his goalbound effort blocked - Ross Sykes heading over the resulting corner.

And it was clever footwork from QPR loanee on the half hour mark that drew a foul out of defender Jack Baldwin and Billy Kee showed great composure to tuck away the resulting penalty - Stanley’s first league goal since Boxing Day.

After Stanley’s bright start they were forced to weather some Sunderland pressure and Will Grigg side footed off target when he should have scored.

But it was a nervy Stadium of Light and Stanley sensed that and, following their best period of play, they took the lead from Kee’s penalty kick.

Kee and Smyth were working well in tandem and the goalscorer nearly turned provider just before the break when his deft flick found Smyth who raced clear and forced a fine save out of Jon McLaughlin in the Sunderland goal.

Sunderland should have been on level terms soon after the restart but a stretching Charlie Wyke could only poke Lynden Gooch’s excellent cross wide.

Stanley were 2-0 up a few minutes later, a break down the right saw Sean McConville’s cross headed home by Smyth in the 52nd minute.

Sunderland brought on Chris Maguire who made an immediate impact first crossing for George Honeyman to blast home after good work from Grigg then teeing up McGeady to equalise five minutes later.

Stanley lost Smyth to injury but it was all about keeping Sunderland out and Mark Hughes cleared a Maguire free kick off the line before Sykes then Hughes blocked shots from Grigg.

In the closing stages, Jonny Maxted made a great save to deny Max Power as Stanley hung on for a draw.

Accrington Hughes, Ross Sykes (Richards-Everton), Janoi Donacien, Jordan Clark, Dan Barlaser, Sean Conneely, Seamus McConville (Brown), Billy Kee, Paul Smyth (Armstrong).