SUNDERLAND collected a point but that is unlikely to be enough come the end of the season on an afternoon when there was a feeling they needed all three.
There were chances at both ends as Sunderland were unable to convert, so had to settle for a draw against Burnley in the battle to beat the drop.
Here are the main talking points from another frustrating afternoon at the Stadium of Light.
SAME OLD PROBLEM
At the end of a week when Jermain Defoe returned to the England fold, how David Moyes could have done with a chance or two falling the 14-goal striker’s way today.
The story of the season, largely, is that when Defoe doesn’t score, neither do Sunderland. That was the case again.
There were fantastic chances too. Billy Jones wasted a header, Seb Larsson skied one over, while Fabio Borini and Adnan Januzaj had their moments. Defoe, however, had to watch and think ‘if only’.
He made the movement and was lively enough in the final third, but the chances fell another player’s way and that proved costly on an afternoon when Sunderland needed to win.
THE JEERS OF A FRUSTRATED FAITHFUL
There were a few boos at half-time and there were even more of them at the final whistle.
This was a day when Sunderland fans knew three points would be crucial in the fight for Premier League survival and the players failed to deliver it.
The seven point gap to safety with 30 to play for suggests time is running out. It is getting to the stage where the latest will be the greatest Great Escape of all of them in recent years.
The problem is that Sunderland don’t possess the quality to climb out of it – and with no transfer window and little room for manoeuvre on the selection front, it is hard to imagine David Moyes coming up with a solution.
Moyes tried a couple of things differently. One of those was to leave out Didier Ndong, which was strange given the energy he has brought to the side during tough times.
It was shaping up to look like a bad decision after an insipid first half from the home side, which lacked adventure and creativity.
The midfield trio of Seb Larsson, Jack Rodwell and Darron Gibson did play reasonably well after the restart, but could have done with delivering the goal that made the difference.
Ndong made an appearance from the bench and Sunderland will need his tenacity in the mix against Watford in the next game, although Moyes does seem to prefer those other three.
Defensively Lamine Kone missed out because of an injury picked up in training. It is hoped he will be back for the trip to Vicarage Road, although Jason Denayer and John O’Shea can be satisfied with how they played at the back against Burnley.
OWNER IN THE HOUSE
ELLIS Short has hardly been at the Stadium of Light this season but he was in attendance to watch this game, joined by former boss Peter Reid in the directors’ box too.
That led to a flurry of rumours and suggestions on social media, but Moyes was having none of that afterwards. He responded: “I spoke to Ellis Short. If you own a football club, you are allowed to watch it! I saw him this morning. He is entitled to come along and it’s all good.”
Short has actively been looking to sell the club and the position at the foot of the table isn’t helping his cause. He will have been encouraged by the way the players are still playing for Moyes, but the quality is still lacking after years of constant change.
David Moyes said: “We made the chances to win the game. Not the prettiest that’s for sure. We made the opportunities we haven’t in other games, like against Crystal Palace. We had them today and didn’t finish. I am disappointed that you ask if they are still trying and fighting, I would expect them to.
“I haven’t looked at the league table. I knew we had games to win and games we hope to draw. Today was one I hoped to win, it means one of those I hoped to draw I need to turn into a win. Burnley make it difficult, they don’t concede many, so they made it difficult for us.”
Sean Dyche said: “We controlled the first half and had two golden chances and had a penalty shout. Then second half they have got to have a go. Feeling a must win for them.
“Both teams missed chances. The mentality was good. They threw everything at us and we kept a clean sheet. We are annoyed at not having won a game away from home.”