Ipswich Town 1 Sunderland 1
Kieran McKenna, at 35 Ipswich’s youngest manager since Alf Ramsey, watched from the stands as his new charges impressed yet failed to win.
On the day Town unveiled a statue to Kevin Beattie, star defender of glory days in the 1970s under Bobby Robson, the club’s other managerial knight, Portman Road’s current crop find themselves 11th in League One and 10 points off the play-offs.
McKenna stepped down as a coach at Manchester United to replace Paul Cook, who was sacked earlier in the month.
Twenty years have passed since this was last a Premier League fixture. Sunderland had Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips up front that day but still lost 5-0. On this occasion only a crowd of 29,000 was worthy of the top division.
At least the majority had a goal to cheer. James Norwood’s early sighter went out for a throw-in but that was an unreliable omen as the striker headed Town into a deserved lead. A player transfer-listed and sent to train with the Under-23s by Cook last month headed Macauley Bonne’s deflected cross in off the crossbar in first-half stoppage-time.
The Black Cats were level within five minutes of the second half, however, when on-loan Everton forward Nathan Broadhead, sent through by Dan Neil, slotted past keeper Christian Walton for his fifth goal in as many games.
“I’m sure he will be pleased,” said interim manager John McGreal of McKenna. “The theme is just getting draws into wins on the pitch. He has worked under Mourinho and Solskjaer and with big players with big egos – it’s a big coup for the club.”
Sunderland, unbeaten in seven league outings, remain third but drop further behind Rotherham and Wigan as they both won.
“We must have had five players slip in the first half and I made those change to longer studs,” said manager Lee Johnson. “We turned the tide in the second half.”
Ipswich (3-4-1-2): Walton 6; Donacien 6, Edmundson 7, Woolfenden 6; Burns 7, Morsy 7, Evans 6, Penney 6 (Vincent-Young 64, 6); Aluko 7; Bonne 7, Norwood 7 (Chaplin 69, 6)
Unused subs: Hladky, Burgess, Carroll, Fraser, Pigott.
Sunderland (3-4-1-2): Hoffmann 6; Wright 7, Flanagan 7, Doyle 7; Dajaku 5 (Hume 41, 6), Winchester 6, Neil 7, Gooch 7; Pritchard 6 (Embleton 63, 5), Broadhead 7 (O’Brien 86, 4), Stewart 6.
Unused subs: Patterson, Alves, Younger, Kimpioka.
Referee: Thomas Bramall 6