London (AFP) – Sunderland earned the unwanted record of becoming the first English club to go 20 home games without a win on Saturday, illustrating the size of the task facing new manager Chris Coleman.
The Black Cats — whose last win at the Stadium of Light came on December 17 last year — managed at least to secure a point against Millwall with a 2-2 draw in their Championship clash.
However, Coleman, who resigned as Wales head coach on Friday, faces a monumental challenge to even prevent a second successive relegation.
Sunderland are bottom of the table, four points from safety.
Coleman, who was not at Saturday’s match as he is due to fulfil a prior engagement in Wales turning on Christmas lights in Newport, is set to sign his contract on Sunday and take charge of Tuesday’s game with Aston Villa.
While Robbie Stockdale took temporary charge in the dugout, Coleman’s former Wales assistant Kit Symons watched from the stands.
Lewis Grabban, one of the Black Cats’ few shining lights this season, gave the hosts an early lead, shooting home from close range after a horrendous error by Millwall goalkeeper Jordan Archer.
However, within minutes the visitors were level thanks to a goalkeeping howler by Robin Ruiter, allowing George Saville’s tame effort to bounce through his hands.
Northern Ireland international Saville doubled his tally four minutes later, as a free-kick played him in and he shot past Ruiter.
But the hosts levelled early in the second half, with Adam Matthews’ cross evading Archer to grab a point.
At the other end of the table, Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Reading 2-0 — their sixth win in seven matches — to leapfrog Sheffield United at the summit and take a two-point lead.
Ivan Cavaleiro put Wolves 1-0 up early on and Matt Doherty sealed the points two minutes from time — their first win at Reading since 2005 — after the leaders had withstood a flurry of attacks in the second period.
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo was impresssed by the manner in which his players had adapted during the match.
“We knew we were playing against a good team, one that causes a lot of problems,” he told the BBC.
“They are a team that changed their shape to play against us, so we had to find solutions.
“One of them was to defend well. The boys did well. When you see a player throw their body in front of the ball, that is commitment.”
Sheffield United had briefly gone top after beating Burton Albion 3-1 on Friday and have a two-point advantage over third-placed Cardiff City.
Cardiff maintained their unbeaten home record this term with a 2-0 win over an in-form Brentford side who suffered their first defeat in 10 matches.
The leaders though will be casting an anxious eye over their shoulders at Aston Villa who have put their poor start firmly behind them, as a double from Ghanaian international Albert Adomah saw them come from behind to beat Queens Park Rangers 2-1.
Adomah’s brace helped Villa — who were without former Chelsea great John Terry for the first time this season through a broken metatarsal — to their fourth away win, already equalling their total from last season.
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