RISING Irish star David Meyler cut an impressive figure in his first competitive start for Sunderland yesterday, bossing midfield as the Black Cats drew 2-2 with Blackburn at Ewood Park.
The former Cork City player – and son of former Wexford hurling boss John – was unlucky not to break the deadlock, chesting down a high ball and send a first-half volley swerving narrowly wide.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce was suitably impressed with Meyler’s efforts.
“David did very, very well.’’ Bruce said. “ He’s been champing at the bit waiting for his chance and he was terrific today.’’
Darren Bent put Sunderland ahead seven minutes into the second half. Daryl Murphy’s low cross was flapped by Robinson into the path of Jordan Henderson. When his shot was blocked by Ryan Nelsen, Bent was on hand to stub in the rebound.
But Rovers responded by drawing level inside a minute, McCarthy’s flick leaving Pedersen in space down the left to cut in and drill a low shot in off the post past Fulop. Rovers maintained their momentum and could have gone ahead in the 57th minute when Irish international Keith Andrews justfailed to connect with Pedersen’s deep cross in front of goal. But the visitors regained the lead against the run of play in the 65th minute when Henderson’s punt forward sent Bent clear to slide a cool finish across Robinson and into the net for his 13th goal of the season.
Sam Allardyce called on former Sunderland forward El-Hadji Diouf, and he clambered off the bench to salvage a point for Blackburn with a 77th-minute goal.
Afterwards Bruce hailed Bent after his second-half double.
Bent’s brace took his Barclays Premier League total to 13 this season and Bruce said his tally was rich reward for the attitude he has shown since his move from Tottenham.
Bruce said: “Darren has done terrifically well and he has been a breath of fresh air.
“He has wanted to play for us since the day we signed him.
“Darren has never groaned about the geography of where he’s come and he has had a wonderful start.’’
While Bruce joked about the first half being “the worst game of football I’ve ever witnessed”, his counterpart Sam Allardyce sang the praises of his three late substitutes.
Diouf snatched the late equaliser while both Franco di Santo and Kalinic had fine chances to snatch a dramatic winner in the dying minutes.
Allardyce said: “Dioufy took his goal really well but we haven’t played well and it’s disappointing that when we’re scoring at home it’s to get back in a game rather than win it.’’
However the Blackburn boss admitted casting envious glances over at 13-goal striker Bent as his own strike-force continue to fail to find any kind of consistency.
Allardyce said: “If we had a 13-goal striker like they have we’d probably be sitting in eighth place in the league looking down on the rest of them.
“Too many of our players haven’t lived up to their reputations regularly enough.”
BLACKBURN: Robinson, Samba, Givet, Nelsen, Chimbonda, Pedersen, Nzonzi, Andrews, Roberts (Kalinic 73), McCarthy (Di Santo 73), Hoilett (Diouf 74).
SUNDERLAND: Fulop, Bardsley, McCartney, Nosworthy, Da Silva, Henderson, Meyler, Cana, Campbell, Bent, Murphy.
Referee: Mike Dean.
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