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Campbell marks memorable return for Sunderland

Fraizer Campbell returned from long-term injury to resuce a draw for Sunderland against Tony Mowbray’s Middlesborough.

Image: SCOTT HEPPELL/AP/Press Association Images

Sunderland 1-1 Middlesborough

UNDER MARTIN O’NEILL’S guidance, Sunderland have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent weeks. This afternoon, however, it took an emotional second-half cameo from Fraizer Campbell to secure a draw for the Wearsiders against Tony Mowbray’s doubty Middlesborough.

Burdened by the knowledge that the winner would book passage to the fifth round of the FA Cup, the play of both sides lacked for ambition and fluency.

Despite the grim, one-note tenor of the encounter, an opportunity to forge a breakthrough against the run of play fell to Middlesborough’s mid-way through the opening half-hour. Faris Haroun’s cross from the right wing was initially cleared by John O’Shea, only for the ball to drop at the feet of Barry Robson, who thumped an instinctive volley goalwards and beyond the grasp of Mignolet.

Hampered by the robust performances of Robson and Rhys Williams at the base of the Middlesborough midfield, Sunderland struggled to impose their technical superiority. Frustrated by pattern of play, O’Neill availed of the half-time stoppage to replace a lumbering, immobile Connor Wickham with long-term absentee Frazier Campbell.

After enduring a turbulent 18 months on the sidelines and two major knee operations, it took the 24-year-old just 13 minutes to mark his comeback with a goal. Capitalising on the dynamism and guile of Ireland hopeful James McLean, who dispossessed Robson before delivering a measured cross from the left wing, Campbell outpaced his marker to fire a low, confident strike into the bottom corner.

Campbell’s 59th-minute strike may have marked a euphoric high, but it came at the cost of two significant casualties, both Lee Cattermole and Wes Brown forced to leave the field through injury.

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