SUNDERLAND’S wait for a first home win of 2017 continues after they were held to a 1-1 draw with QPR.

The Black Cats have now gone a remarkable 17 games at the Stadium of Light without claiming a victory, and remain rooted just a place above the foot of the Championship table.

Things might have been even worse for them after Idrissa Sylla’s first-half header gave QPR a deserved lead, but a second-half rally saw Aiden McGeady curl home an excellent equaliser from the edge of the area.

McGeady went close to a claiming a winner in the closing stages, but QPR had plenty of chances of their own and Sunderland once again produced a ragged, disjointed performance.

Their defence continues to looks extremely shaky, and while they improved after the half-time introduction of Lewis Grabban at the other end, Simon Grayson still has plenty of work to do if he is to guide his side up the table.

The Sunderland boss made two changes to the side that drew at Preston in the game that preceded the international break, with the most notable seeing Duncan Watmore return to the starting line-up for the first time in ten months.

Watmore replaced Lynden Gooch, with Bryan Oviedo replacing Tyias Browning in a back four that saw Billy Jones partner John O’Shea at centre-half.

Watmore was Sunderland’s brightest attacking threat from the outset, and the hosts began reasonably brightly.

Alex Smithies had to make a smart save within the opening ten minutes, flinging himself to his left to turn George Honeyman’s half-volley around the post after McGeady’s corner was cleared into the midfielder’s path, and Bryan Oviedo also went close with a long-range effort that whistled past the right-hand upright.

QPR had early chances of their own, but Jason Steele turned Sylla’s bouncing effort around the post, albeit awkwardly, before making another save from the same player as confusion in the home defence threatened to serve up the opener on a plate.

Sunderland desperately needed a dose of inspiration from somewhere, but when Watmore provided it on the half-hour mark, McGeady’s profligacy meant the opportunity went begging.

Watmore turned superbly on the halfway line, and after spinning away from his marker, his through ball sent McGeady scampering clear of the QPR defence. The winger should have scored, but instead could only roll a tame side-footed effort wastefully wide of the target.

It was a miss that summed up the lack of confidence throughout this Sunderland side, and it was deservedly punished when the visitors broke the deadlock eight minutes later.

Not for the first time this season, it was an awful goal to concede. Luke Freeman swung over a corner from the right, and with Steele planted to his line, Sylla out-jumped James Vaughan to head home from inside the six-yard box.

Sylla should have doubled his side’s lead on the stroke of half-time, but the Rangers forward somehow blazed over from eight yards out after Jamie Mackie’s driven cross found him completely unmarked in the penalty area.

Grayson had clearly seen enough, and he hauled off Vaughan at half-time in order to introduce Grabban for his first appearance since he damaged his hamstrings in the middle of last month.

The Bournemouth loanee had been Sunderland’s best player in the opening weeks of the season, and he almost had an instant impact as he met Watmore’s low cross with a first-time effort, but Smithies tipped the ball around the post.

That was a moment of optimism, but it came amid a passage of play that saw QPR threatening to overrun their opponents. With the Stadium of Light crowd becoming increasingly agitated, Freeman and Pawel Wszolek both drilled in low efforts that Steele got down to save.

With O’Shea placing a pass straight into touch, tension were threatening to boil over, but from their very next attack, Sunderland levelled the game.

Didier Ndong shuffled the ball on to McGeady close to the edge of the area, and the Irishman atoned for his first-half error as he curled home a superb left-footed effort from 20 yards.  

He went close again with 15 minutes left, drilling in a low effort that Smithies did well to hold on to, although QPR also had late chances of their own and Steele was grateful when Massimo Luongo shot straight into his chest after the Sunderland defence failed to clear their lines.

Sunderland (4-2-3-1): Steele; Matthews, Jones, O’Shea, Oviedo; Cattermole,Ndong; Honeyman (Williams 58), Watmore (McManaman 79), McGeady; Vaughan (Grabban 46).

Subs (not used): Ruiter (gk), Love, Gibson, Gooch.

QPR (3-4-2-1): Smithies; Baptiste, Lynch, Bidwell; Wszolek (Osayi-Samuel 76), Luongo, Manning, Freeman; Sylla, Scowen; Mackie (Washington 67).

Subs (not used): Lumley (gk), Furlong, Smith, N’Gbakoto, Wheeler.