Defeat to West Ham United was hard for David Moyes to take but he has called on his players to take the positives from the latest loss.
It was another morale-sapping weekend of Premier League football for Sunderland, with Winston Reid netting the winner in the 94th minute.
Four times this season Sunderland have shipped goals after the 85-minute mark, one of the key reasons why they are bottom of the league with just two points from nine games.
The Black Cats did, though, deserve a point from their first trip to the London Stadium – the new home of the Hammers after the summer move from Upton Park.
They had to endure a torrid opening half hour, with man of the match Dimitri Payet curling one effort just wide, another saved by Jordan Pickford while a third crashed off the post.
But once David Moyes’ side got to grips with the hosts’ 3-5-2 formation, Sunderland fought their way into the game and had good chances to take the lead through Wahbi Khazri and Jermain Defoe.
Sunderland, helped by the return of Lamine Kone, defended well until the Hammers won a corner in the final minute of the game, Payet laying the ball to Reid from a short corner.
Unmarked, his left-foot strike found the bottom right-hand corner of the net, the ball flying past a sea of players and the helpless Jordan Pickford.
Strong appeals for offside were dismissed and a deeply frustrated Moyes felt his side deserved more from the game.
The 53-year-old Scot said: “It’s a hard one for the players because there were a lot of good things in the game, things we were doing a bit better, in quite a few departments.
“Then, in the end, if you don’t get the reward, it’s hard to take and I think it’s even more galling when you feel it’s down to an incorrect decision against you.”
Moyes added: “I don’t think for a minute the lads thought they’d won a point.
“I just think they need to go until the final whistle, they knew they had to go right to the end.
“In the end, the players have worked hard enough to deserve something from the game and that’s the disappointing thing.
“As well as that, because it’s a controversial decision, that doesn’t help.
“I think the players themselves will know, they don’t always need the manager to tell them [about the positives].
“I think they understand that lots of the things they did after the opening 30 minutes was good.
“We had one or two really good chances ourselves.”
It leaves Sunderland five points adrift and still without a win in nine top-flight games this season.
Is lady luck going against Sunderland at the moment?
“I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s how it works,” added Moyes.
“We can only blame ourselves.
“But I think sometimes you have to say, you know, you need a little bit of things to go [your way], regarding decisions, and I’m not sure this one went for us.
“Tactically we struggled in the early part of the game, with their formation and system.
“We found it difficult to cope with them – we couldn’t cover all the areas of the pitch we’d have liked.
“There were one or two things we were trying to keep changing to try and get there, and we got there in the end and started to grow into the game a little bit after that.
“The lads are disappointed, but I’ve told them that they did a lot of good things.
“I couldn’t say we turned off at the corner, but I’d have liked the players not to have turned around and run away from it.
“When we gave the corner away, we should have stayed on the ball.
“They take it short, and we allow them to work it to the edge of the box.
“But I’d probably rather them take a short corner than cross it into the box, so there you go.”