Monday 27 March 2017

Dismal stalemate gives Bruce the gift of agony

FULHAM 0 SUNDERLAND 0

Duncan Bech

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce admitted Christmas shopping would have been more entertaining than watching today's goalless draw with Fulham.

The Black Cats moved up to sixth in the table -- temporarily at least -- but the Craven Cottage encounter was a grim spectacle. At one point Sunderland fashioned a four-on-one overlap only for Darren Bent to ruin the move with a dreadful pass.

"It was agony. From start to finish and for both sides it was one of those games when we might have gone Christmas shopping," said Bruce. "When we had four against one and we overplayed the pass, that summed up our afternoon. I couldn't fault the effort or endeavour and this was probably the youngest side we've ever put out in the Premier League.

"But we pride ourselves on keeping the ball better. We had too many players who tried hard, but who were way off it. You couldn't argue with the resilience or effort. We just lack that bit of passing and composure on the ball."

Victory would have lifted Sunderland into fifth place but Bruce is content with his side's progress. "You're always delighted to come away from home with a clean sheet and get a point," he said. "But you're always pleased with a point away from home in this league. We're sixth in the Premier League. I can't be displeased about that."

The second half was marginally the more enjoyable, with Fulham taking the game to their opponents.

Fulham hover a single point above the relegation zone but manager Mark Hughes is refusing to panic.

"We're lacking a bit of luck. We had a number of chances, in the second half especially," said Hughes. "Sunderland defended really well today, got their bodies on the line for goalbound shots and cleared things off the line.

"On another day those things go in for you. The possession we had should have been illustrated by goals."

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