Alex Pritchard’s first goal for Sunderland was one to remember but it really should have paved the way for a second straight win as Lee Johnson’s side climbed to fifth in League One.

They had most of the play, forced several saves and hit the woodwork twice but couldn’t find a winner against a team forced to play the second half with 10 men after the dismissal of former Wolves midfielder David Davis.

With a trip to one of League One’s best home teams who had a Callum Wilson on bench, this looked a formidable task.

Throw in the fact Johnson’s side had conceded a total of eight goals in their last two away games and the omens didn’t look good.

But far from fearing the worst, this was a game where Sunderland were the better team and should have won.

Sunderland were forced into plenty of defending in the early stages as Shrewsbury pressed hard.

Nathaneal Ogbeta was allowed to advance before unleashing an angled drive that flew wide.

Then Shrewsbury’s Dan Udoh was left clean through with Thorben Hoffmann to beat only for his sidefooted effort to be deflected wide.

So when Pritchard gave Sunderland took a 16th-minute lead, it came against the run of play.

The midfielder picked up possession on the edge of the area and took a couple of steps forward before picking his spot with a delicious curling shot that bent into the far corner of the net, giving goalkeeper Marko Marosi no chance.

The goal gave Sunderland a foothold in the game.

And they looked to capitalise on it against a defence without a clean sheet in 24 games in all competitions going back to May 4.

Carl Winchester let fly from 25 yards after the ball sat up nicely but the midfielder’s rising drive was held by Marosi.

Shrewsbury went close to an equaliser in the 29th minute with their first effort on target.

Ogbeta produced an angled drive that Hoffman held at the second attempt at the near post.

But after surviving that scare, Sunderland were quickly chasing a second goal and only the heroics of Marosi prevented them doubling their lead.

Lynden Gooch cut inside from the right and his curling left foot shot looked to be heading the same way as Pritchard’s only for the goalkeeper to make a fingertip save.

The game appeared to turn further in Sunderland’s favour in the seconds before half-time when Shrewsbury were reduced to 10 men.

Midfielder Davis was shown a straight red card for a high tackle on Nathan Broadhead.

The tackle might have been retribution for an off-the-ball kick by the Sunderland striker on Luke Leahy for which he earned a booking.

Looking to exploit the advantage of their extra man and attacking the end where their 838 supporters were massed, Sunderland quickly hunted a second goal as they started the second half with a flourish.

Neil went desperately close when his shot curled just wide of the top corner from 25 yards.

Ross Stewart then glanced wide from Pritchard’s cross before header from Luke O’Nien went the same way from a Gooch centre as Sunderland’s full backs attacked with real verve.

Another delivery from Gooch, this time more of a shot, carried plenty of venom but flashed across the face of goal and wide.

But instead it was Shrewsbury who were celebrating the second goal of the game.

Udoh’s 64th-minute snapshot from the edge of the area in a crowded box ripped into the bottom corner of net, giving Hoffman no chance.

The game was now anyone’s as both teams pushed for a winner and it looked as it Sunderland might pinch it.

Neil sent a looping header over the bar before boss Johnson injected some fresh legs with Leon Dajaku and Aiden McGeady on for Gooch and Pritchard.

Dajaku in particular looked lively and his cross hit the post after Luke O’Nien’s shot had warmed the fingers of Marosi.

Sunderland hit the woodwork again in the 90th minute with a stretching header from Broadhead.

But ultimately, they had to settle for a well-deserved point.