Cats pegged back by Saints.Loanee Danny Rose would have loved to have ended his season on Wearside with a win, but a draw was a result which didn’t suit Sunderland at all.
The Saints were rewarded for their early dominance with a corner on 32 minutes. Rodriguez headered the ball toward goal but his header was blocked. Hooiveld was first to the second ball and played the ball back to second striker Rodriguez who hit a close range shot which was well held by the diving Simon Mignolet.
Sunderland themselves could have taken the lead from a corner on 39 minutes. Larsson’s in-swinger was headered back across goal by O’Shea, who had peeled off at the back post like Monday, but Johnson’s tame shot was easily held by the Southampton man in between the sticks.
A goal just before half time would have been a crucial blow for the away side, but Lambert failed to convert his chance. Played in by Davis, the big forward controlled the ball and, 8 yards out, most would have expected him to lash the ball in. however, his shot was almost comic as it trickled into the arms of Mignolet.
The Lads went for 4-4-2 as Wickham came on for McClean.
On 50 minutes, another Saints corner was aimed towards Rodriguez and again he managed to get his head on it. This time it went directly to Mignolet and the Belgian held on.
Two minutes later, Danny Graham was presented with one of the easiest chances of his SAFC career. Some good work on the left meant that Rose had a good crossing opportunity. The left back cross was hit towards Graham but the striker failed to even get any contact with the ball. His ‘air’ shot frustrated many of the 40,000 nervous home fans.
It was delight for those home fans on 68 minutes when the Black Cats took the lead. Rose was cleared only to Johnson on the other side who played the ball to Bardsley. From a tight angle on the edge of the box, the Scot unleashed a pile driver into the top corner. As it stood, SAFC were safe.
The introduction of Jason Puncheon proved to be the pivotal point of the gamer as Puncheon grabbed the equaliser on 76 minutes. Ward-Prowse’s cross was met by the head of the winger. Mignolet pulled off a good save to block the shot but Puncheon reacted first to hit the ball into the back of the net.
Sunderland are now safe but realistically will not finish above 17th and as the players did their end of season walk in front of a mainly empty stadium, it summed up the mood on Wearside.
Simon Mignolet, Phil Bardsley, Danny Rose, Carlos Cuellar, john O’Shea ©, Seb Larsson, Alfred N’Diaye, James McClean, Jack Colback, Adam Johnson and Danny Graham.
Artur Boruc, Nathan Clyne, Luke Shaw, Jos Hooiveld, Jose Fonte, jack Cork, Morgan Schneiderlin, Steven Davis, Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert.