Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Draw as Low as It Gets for Wearmen; MATCH ANALYSIS: Sunderland 1 Blackpool 1

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Draw as Low as It Gets for Wearmen; MATCH ANALYSIS: Sunderland 1 Blackpool 1

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES HUNTER Sunderland writer james.hunter@reachplc.com @JHUNTERCHRON

IT will be the bleakest of midwinters on Wearside.

Sunderland have never sunk below their present league position - 12th in the third tier - and never at this stage of a season, their only previous experience of this low ebb having come in September of 1987.

It could yet get worse before it gets better because, with no fixture next weekend - and depending how other teams fare - Sunderland could slide further down the table and spend Christmas at an all-time low.

Given the Wearsiders went into the game with only two wins from 12 games in all competitions, winless in seven, and having collected just one point from their last three league matches, it was no surprise many fans stayed away.

The change of mood on Wearside this season compared to last has been palpable - towards the owners, towards Jack Ross and now Phil Parkinson and towards the players.

The official attendance of 30,565 against Blackpool may have been calculated in the standard way but it was the kind of wildly-misleading figure you might find in an election manifesto.

Yet Sunderland's draw against the fifth-placed Seasiders, deeply unsatisfying though it was for a team which desperately needs a victory, was not a total write-off.

In fact, there was a slight but definite improvement on recent performances - albeit the bar had been set so low that to limbo beneath it would have been an achievement in itself.

While Sunderland slipped a place in the table, they actually trimmed the gap between themselves and the play-offs by one point to four - with a game in hand of sixth-placed Rotherham.

They even made up ground on the automatic promotion places, although no-one is kidding themselves a top-two finish is a realistic possibility.

Only a win against Blackpool would have eased the pressure on Parkinson - but a draw and a spirited performance may at least buy him time. …

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