FOR the second week in a row, Martin O’Neill felt Sunderland paid the penalty for poor refereeing decisions.
There was much to talk about from an incident-packed game against Fulham which ended honours even today.
But uppermost on O’Neill’s mind after the 2-2 draw was not so much the penalties given – one either side – but the one that referee mark Halsey turned away, Fulham sub Emmanuel Frimpong charging down an Adam Johnson ball two-handed 10 minutes from time.
The Black Cats boss said: “We’ve conceded a penalty and then another goal to Fulham, but then we fought back, getting a goal ourselves from the penalty spot, and I thought we could and should have had a penalty late in the game.
“For the second week in a row, I feel as though we’ve been denied a legitimate penalty.
“Last week against Albion, one was given against us and a pretty much identical one was not given for us.
“This week, the same has happened to us.
“Maybe 20 years ago, this game would not have had a penalty in it at all.
“But, in the present day, these penalties do get given and I do feel hard done by that we did not get one that we clearly deserved according to the current directives.”
O’Neill’s over-riding emotion straight afterwards was one of disappointment, but he still acknowledged there had been positives from the game.
“I’m pleased with how the side rallied,” he nodded.
“I can’t be disappointed with the effort.
“We had to go for everything and there was always the possibility of conceding a goal, even at 2-2, because we were going for the win.
“But we were going all out out for it and I thought we deserved it.
“Simon Mignolet made a very important save at 2-1.
“At 3-1, it would have been a long way back, so it was a big moment, but he’s come up with many big moments for this season.
“And then Stephane Sessegnon was outstanding.
“He’s taken on board what we said about adding goals to his game and he’s getting them now, which is just what we need.”
* For the biggest and best coverage of Sunderland AFC, don’t miss the Football Echo – out today