Striker Paul Smyth scored his first goal for Accrington Stanley as they left the Stadium of Light with a point following their entertaining 2-2 draw at promotion-chasing Sunderland at the weekend.
The 21-year-old, who is currently on loan at Stanley from QPR until the end of the season, earned the visitors a penalty which was converted by Billy Kee before extending their advantage when he headed home a second seven minutes into the second half.
Although the Black Cats fought back to earn a point, Billy Kee, who now has 11 goals for the season, had words of praise for his fellow strike partner Smyth who was named Sky’s Man-of-the-Match after the game.
“Paul has come into the team, he hasn’t played many games this year and has run his socks off,” said Kee.
“He got the pen for us, he got his goal and he deserved the Man of the Match for me.
“Having someone like Paul keeps everyone on their toes,” he added, “Paul was excellent, we are both Northern Irish, so you never know we might both get a call-up!”
Meanwhile Will Grigg provided an assist for Sunderland’s first goal but is waiting to get off the mark at his new club. Black Cats manager Jack Ross is confident that the 27-year-old’s will re-discover his goalscoring form.
“I thought Friday’s game was similar to the one on Tuesday really,” said Ross, whose side are currently in third spot in League One, “It would be a greater concern if, in the last two home games, he hadn’t had any opportunities.
“In the last couple of games, I’m sure he’ll feel he could have come out with two or three goals.
“Over the course of the three matches, he’s had chances to do that, but his record and pedigree, and what I’ve seen of him since he’s come here, would suggest that if these chances keep coming, then the goals will start coming as well.”
Elsewhere in the division, Gavin Whyte was part of the Oxford United side which slumped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Peterborough United however former Glenavon midfielder Mark Sykes missed the contest after picking up a knee injury in training.
“He banged his knee on the post in training (last week) and it flared that bit of tendonitis up in that joint,” reported Oxford boss Karl Robinson.
“We’re hoping it settles down. He can run and do everything, it’s just when he gets to top speed he feels something.”
In the FA Cup, Millwall’s Shane Ferguson will be eagerly awaiting tonight’s quarter-final draw after the Lions’ recorded a narrow 1-0 victory over fellow south-London side AFC Wimbledon.
Also in the hat for the last eight are Watford who rested Craig Cathcart for their 1-0 fifth round success at Queens Park Rangers on Friday evening.
In Scotland, Steven Davis was subbed 59 minutes into Rangers’ scoreless draw at home to St Johnstone while in an effort to break the deadlock boss Steven Gerrard introduced striker Kyle Lafferty as a substitute midway through the second half, but to no avail.
Former Coleraine midfielder Brad Lyons popped up with an assist for St Mirren’s second goal in their impressive 2-2 draw at Aberdeen for whom Niall McGinnwas substituted in the 77thminute.
Finally, some good news on the injury front for Michael O’Neill as Stuart Dallas began his comeback from an ankle problem when he played in Leeds United’s U23 Premier League Cup game against Notts County last Friday night.