Mackem Preview - Last Gasp Goal Gutted Boro!

Last updated : 07 January 2009 By Boro Mad
2007/8 BORO 2 MACKEMS 2

BORO: Schwarzer, Young, Woodgate, Wheater, Taylor, O'Neil, Rochemback, Arca (Boateng 27), Downing, Sanli (Lee 12), Mido (Cattermole 58).
Subs Not Used: Jones, Riggott.

MACKEMS: Gordon, Halford, McShane, Higginbotham, Collins, Leadbitter, Yorke (Stokes 67), Etuhu (Miller 53), Wallace (O'Donovan 76), Jones, Chopra.
Subs Not Used: Ward, Harte.

The last time Sunderland played at the Riverside, Liam Miller left the bench to hand the Mackems a point with a last-minute strike in a fiercely contested encounter.

The former Celtic midfielder smashed a left-foot volley past Mark Schwarzer to deny us a victory we thought was in the bag after local boy Stewart Downing had dispatched a 67th-minute thunderbolt past Craig Gordon.

Black Cats boss Roy Keane, celebrating 50 games in charge at the Stadium of Light, saw his side get off to the perfect start when Grant Leadbitter capitalised on an error by former Black Cat Julio Arca to start and finish an attack which produced the game's opening goal with less than two minutes gone.

Boro were back on level terms when Arca made amends with a 14th-minute header to drag Boro back into it, and Downing's goal should have been enough to win it.

But as chances went begging with the impressive Gary O'Neil, making his first start for the club following a £5million deadline day transfer from Portsmouth, unable to take any of a series of opportunities which came his way, the home side were made to pay in front of a crowd of 30,675.

Arca was barely into his stride when he gifted the ball to Leadbitter on halfway and looked on in horror as the Wearsiders made the most of the opportunity.

Leadbitter raced away before picking out Michael Chopra on the left, and then benefited from a slice of good fortune when the striker's shot hit him and fell perfectly for him to drive a left-foot effort past the stranded Schwarzer.

But Arca atoned for his error within 12 minutes. O'Neil sent in a teasing right-wing cross which the South American met with perfect timing at the far post to thump a downward header into the net despite the best efforts of Craig Gordon.

Tuncay Sanli limped off with just 10 minutes gone, and was followed within 15 minutes by the unfortunate Arca, who was carried off with what looked like a serious knee injury.

With five minutes of the first half still to play Mido clutched his hamstring, but the Egyptian declined to leave the field.

Boro left the field at the break still wondering how Danny Higginbotham had escaped without conceding a penalty when Luke Young's ball into the box had hit his hand.

But the Mackems saw Jonathan Woodgate survive a penalty shout for handball, in the 55th-minute.

Sunderland fell behind with 23 minutes remaining when Downing took aim from 25 yards and blasted a stunning right-foot shot past Gordon, who was undone by the swerve the England midfielder imparted on the ball.

But Miller muscled his way into the box a minute from time to hammer a left-foot drive past Schwarzer.