COOL CATS GET GRAY OF LIGHT; CHAMPIONSHIP; Boss's joy as new boy earns point.
Sunderland 1 Derby County 1
LEWIS GRABBAN last night showed why Sunderland boss Simon Grayson was so delighted when he agreed to leave the Premier League and spend this season at the Stadium of Light.
Squeezed out of the first team at Bournemouth, the striker sparked Sunderland into life as they began their bid to return to the top flight.
Grabban scored from the spot after Bradley Johnson put Derby ahead, and also fired a shot against the post as Sunderland battled hard in Grayson's first game in charge.
The Black Cats boss started with six of his seven new boys and two of them, Grabban and Brendan Galloway, were involved in moves that created two early chances.
The best fell to Aiden McGeady, another of the new signings, but his shot was blocked at the far post by Andre Wisdom.
Derby didn't mount an attack until the 11th minute, but it produced the opening goal, sparked by Tom Huddlestone's raking crossfield pass to Johnny Russell.
The winger easily escaped Galloway's untidy challenge and a deflection left Johnson with time and space to beat keeper Jason Steele.
He was almost beaten again after failing to hold a 20th-minute shot from the impressive Huddlestone, and was fortunate that Chris Martin was unable to seize onto the loose ball.
But Sunderland, showing the sort of resilience that was always absent last season, battled back. Lee Cattermole led the way and the midfielder's 12-yard effort in the 25th minute brought a fine onehanded save from Scott Carson.
Grabban claimed the equaliser from the spot in the 42nd minute, after Jacob Butterfield pushed the ball away with his arm as he stumbled forward on the edge of the area.
The hosts deserved to be level - and were almost ahead within four minutes of the restart when James Vaughan left Carson flat-footed with a shot that was inches wide.
Sunderland were now the more dangerous side as Grabban's shot thudded off a post but had to settle for the point.
SUNDERLAND: Steele 5, Jones 6, Browning 6, Kone 6, Galloway 6, Honeyman 7, Ndong 6, Cattermole 7, McGeady 5, Grabban 8, Vaughan 6.
DERBY: Carson 7, Wisdom 6, Keogh 6, Davies 6, Forsyth 6, Johnson 7, Huddlestone 8, Russell 7 (Bryson 90), Butterfield 6, Weimann 5 (Vydra 66, 6), Martin 5 (Nugent 78).
REFEREE: O Langford
GOAL GRABBER Lewis Grabban beats Scott Carson from the penalty spot to earn Sunderland a 1-1 draw