MARTIN O’Neill admitted he was thinking in terms of Sunderland taking all three points in the dying minutes of yesterday’s game against Reading when, to his horror, he realised his team were likely to take none, writes Graeme Anderson.
The Black Cats had mounted a late surge to win the game, inspired by the arrival of late substitute Danny Graham, only to be made to suffer by Jimmy Kebe’s second goal of the match in the 85th minute.
And O’Neill confessed: “Naturally I’m disappointed. Really disappointed.
“To concede so late in the game, particularly on the back of a couple of good chances we had ourselves, was just not what I had expected.
“I had thought we might win it, but not having won it, I hadn’t thought we were going to lose it and it’s hard to take.
“From our viewpoint, it was poor to concede a free-kick late on when we didn’t need to.
“We’d had a good chance from Graham and a good one from N’Diaye before when he really should hit the target.
“That was a big moment and a real let-off for them.”
There was the positive of Newcastle fan Danny Graham getting a good reception from the Sunderland crowd as he came on for his debut as substitute.
“He got an excellent reception from the travelling fans which augurs well and he forced a fantastic save out of their keeper,” said O’Neill.
“He has fitted in during his one and only training session and hopefully he will do well, he has a point to prove and hopefully he will prove it with us.”
“But, for the moment, I can’t get away from the disappointment of having lost the game.”
O’Neill admitted that his side hadn’t been in their best form during the game, but he felt that their efforts should have been rewarded with a point at least.
“Reading started better than us and got ahead but we got level through a deserved penalty,” he pointed out.
“In the second half, we were better than the first and had some decent chances – had we put one away, it might have been a long way back for Reading.
“But we couldn’t get a goal back and I’m left disappointed at conceding a free-kick in a dangerous area when we didn’t need to.
“Ian Harte’s delivery has been great for years, so we knew he would be dangerous and the fewer chances we gave him the better.
“In the end, they’ve got that winner and we’re left probably feeling every bit as disappointed as Reading were with their defeat at our place in December.”
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