SHOULD it be any great surprise that two teams came back from the dead at the Stadium of Light?

At various stages of this Halloween thriller the country’s worst home record and Wanderers’ two-and-a-half year wait for a Championship away win looked like they would finally come to an end. Instead, we got a six-goal shootout which, while thoroughly entertaining, does neither side much good at the foot of the table. The result also spelled the end of Simon Grayson’s tenure as Black Cats manager, his sacking announced less than an hour after the full-time whistle.

The lead was exchanged on three occasions, with defending at times more horrific than anything folk at home tuned into on TV.

Sammy Ameobi scored his third of the season but two Lewis Grabban strikes put struggling Sunderland in command.

Gary Madine drew Wanderers level and Karl Henry looked like he had gifted them a first win on the road in this division in 939 days. But Patrick McNair’s low drive 11 minutes from time made it four points dropped from winning positions in four days.

Wanderers are undefeated in a month – which is quite some achievement considering their start to the season – yet they are passing up victories with alarming regularity.

Phil Parkinson made just the one enforced change from the side which drew at Craven Cottage, with Antonee Robinson coming in for the injured Andy Taylor.

The youngster may still have plenty to prove defensively but his energy and pace down the left side does give the Whites an extra dimension – and the on-loan Everton man caused plenty of problems early on for Sunderland.

Parkinson’s side made a bright enough start. Madine created the first opportunity, chesting into the path of Mark Beevers, who swept a shot wide from the edge of the box.

Sunderland’s fans were never far away from their next jeer. But they put their ill-feeling to one side for a spell in the first half where Simon Grayson’s men kept Wanderers well and truly penned back.

The home crowd were roaring for a penalty when winger Callum McManaman wriggled past Robinson and went sprawling on the floor but referee Tony Harrington did not want to know.

Sunderland started to build up a head of steam and went close when Aiden McGeady cut in off his left-wing berth to drive a shot at goal, deflected just over the bar by Mark Little. From the corner, a half-clearance fell to John O’Shea but his looping shot was stopped on the line by Ben Alnwick.

Wanderers kept their composure and with Karl Henry and Darren Pratley imposing themselves in midfield, started to push the Black Cats back again.

Madine brought a save out of Robbin Ruiter with a header from Josh Vela’s corner and Ameobi had one effort blocked well by Adam Matthews – a full-back who once came close to joining Bolton in the days of Neil Lennon.

Ameobi’s family links with Sunderland’s bitter rivals Newcastle are well known. His brother had scored more goals in the Tyne-Wear derby than anyone other than Jackie Milburn.

Each time he got anywhere near the ball, the vocal home crowd made their feelings known.

Such is Ameobi’s nature, he played virtually the whole first half with a grin on his face.

And it was never wider than after he collected Madine’s excellent knock down on 32 minutes to drive a superb effort into the bottom corner.

The mood around the Stadium of Light turned ugly in an instant. But to Sunderland’s credit they ignored the ugliness and got themselves back on level terms. Didier Ndong played a fine threaded pass down the left channel for Grabban, who out-paced Beevers before stroking a shot past Alnwick, which nestled into the bottom corner.

Grayson went 4-4-2 in the second half, bringing on ex-Bury front man James Vaughan. And he was in the thick of the action immediately, producing an overhead kick from the edge of the box which just cleared the bar.

Moments later, Vaughan was appealing for a penalty after claiming Beevers had pulled him down trying to get on the end of Grabban’s low cross. Again, ref Harrington appeared to get it right. It proved only temporary respite for the Whites, however, as Ndong sliced them open again, finding Bryan Oviedo to put a second on a plate for Grabban.

Sunderland’s fans didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Within 10 minutes they decided on the latter.Wanderers dragged themselves level when Ameobi and David Wheater both won headers which left Madine unmarked from six yards and able to poke home his first goal since August 19.

Sunderland then gifted the Whites a third – Ndong playing a risky back-pass to his keeper, intercepted superbly by Robinson, whose cross was slammed in at the far post by Henry.

It was the 34-year-old’s first goal since the last day of the 2015/16 season when he hit the winner against Bristol City for QPR.

But the drama wasn’t through. Wanderers got penned back on the edge of their own box and after Duncan Watmore had one effort blocked, fellow sub McNair followed up to drill in a low shot.

There was no late drama, thankfully, as both sides settled for a point in the latter stages. But Sunderland have now equalled a league record 19th game without a home win and Grayson paid the price for that run with his job.

WANDERERS (4-2-3-1)












Subs: Noone 85 (for Armstrong). Not used: Howard, King, Buckley, Cullen, Derik, Darby.

Sunderland (4-3-3): Ruiter; Matthews, O’Shea, Wilson, Oviedo; Williams, Ndong, Gibson, McGeady, Grabban, McManaman. Subs: Vaughan 46 (for Williams), Watmore 61 (for McManaman), McNair 75 (for Gibson).

Not used: Steele, Cattermole, Kone, Honeyman. Referee: Tony Harrington 7.

Attendance: 26,395.