JACK Colback was left to rue the one that got away after spurning a golden opportunity for his maiden Sunderland goal.
Colback was handed his first start in four at the Emirates yesterday and should have marked his recall by breaking his Black Cats duck.
But the 21-year-old could only send his half-volley over the top from six yards after Stephane Sessegnon and Seb Larsson had exploited the vulnerability of Arsenal’s defence.
Given skipper Lee Cattermole had blown a similarly gilt-edge chance moments earlier, Sunderland’s failure to profit from their first half opportunities ultimately proved costly when Robin Van Persie’s 83rd minute free-kick found the top corner.
Colback said: “We had our chances - Catts’ header and I missed one.
“I was trying to get forward as much as possible with Stephane up front on his own.
“Seb knocked it down for me and if anything I think I caught it too well and sadly it went over.
“If those had gone in we maybe could have been looking at something more than just a point but we’re just so disappointed not to get anything.”
Sunderland’s inability to hold on during the final 10 minutes denied them what would have been a well-deserved point after fighting back from the worst possible start.
It took Van Persie just 29 seconds to break the deadlock, prompting an early onslaught from the Gunners.
But Sunderland restricted Arsenal to just one and went into the interval on level terms thanks to Seb Larsson’s sublime free-kick.
“It was the worst start we could have asked for,” added Colback, to the club website.
“The gaffer said that they’re going through a tricky time at the moment and told us to try to quiet the crowd down and we didn’t do that.
“But I think we showed the fighting spirit that we have in the team and got back into it. It’s just a massive disappointment that we got nothing after all that effort.”