SUNDERLAND transfer target Danny Graham was a victim of the boo boys as the Black Cats lurched to a dire stalemate with Swansea.
Boyhood Newcastle fan Graham, who Sunderland are hopeful of signing before Thursday’s transfer deadline, received a hostile reception from a section of the Stadium of Light after being introduced from the Swansea bench with 15 minutes to go.
But it was one of the few moments of intrigue from a forgettable encounter, where both sides struggled to test the opposition goalkeeper.
Sunderland’s only threat came from free-kicks and although they were improved in the second half, mainly thanks to the efforts of Stephane Sessegnon, they were still unable to test Swansea stopper Gerhard Tremmel from open play.
Swansea fared little better, although winger Nathan Dyer spurned a golden opportunity to win it with 10 minutes to go.
Graham then had a chance in the third minute of stoppage time, but Titus Bramble came to Sunderland’s rescue with a stunning last-gasp challenge inside the six-yard box.
Sunderland were unchanged from the side which won at Wigan 10 days earlier, although there was a spot on the bench for new signing Kader Mangane, who took the place of out-of-contract James McFadden.
Swansea boss Michael Laudrup made three changes from the side which drew with Chelsea in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final. Dwight Tiendalli, Itay Schechter and Nathan Dyer all came into the starting XI.
Swansea had an early appeal for a penalty when Schechter went down theatrically under the outstretched leg of John O’Shea, although replays showed there was contact from the Sunderland skipper.
But it was a tepid opening to the game, with Dyer going closest to an early goal in the 11th minute with an angled shot from the left of the area which was high and wide of the far post.
Michu had his first of goal two minutes later after the Spaniard launched a lightning-quick counter-attack with a ball down the right-hand channel as Swansea broke from a Sunderland corner.
Dyer pulled the ball back into the path of Pablo Hernandez, who played a clever reverse pass into the path of the overlapping Michu down the left-hand side of the area, only for Craig Gardner to block his shot behind.
Swansea continued to threaten – Chico Flores forcing Simon Mignolet into a save in the 17th minute after Sunderland had failed to clear their lines.
Flores beat David Vaughan on the left-hand touchline and the ball bobbled out to Ben Davies who picked out the Spaniard who hit a low shot towards the near post, that looked to be heading wide, with Mignolet making sure.
Sunderland tested Swansea keeper Gerhard Tremmel for the first time in the 21st minute when Seb Larsson unleashed an inswinging free-kick, just in from the left-hand corner flag, which the German had to palm away at his near post.
HALF-TIME Sunderland 0 Swansea 0
Sunderland were far brighter at the start of the second half and threatened the Swans with a much-increased tempo.
But it was the visitors who went close to breaking the deadlock on the hour mark when Jonathan De Guzman’s free-kick landed on the roof of the net.
Substitute Ku Sung-Yueng tried his luck in the 69th minute with a low shot from 25 yards that was straight at Mignolet.
Swansea should have taken the lead in the 81st minute though after a glaring miss from Dyer.
The winger had caught David Vaughan in possession, midway inside the Sunderland half, and poked it through to Michu down the right-hand channel.
Michu pulled it back into the path of Dyer, eight yards out, but he managed to direct a left-footed shot wide of the near post.
Graham then had a chance to win it in the third minute of stoppage time but his effort from Michu’s knock-down was blocked by Titus Bramble’s superb last-gasp challenge.
FULL-TIME Sunderland 0 Swansea 0
SUNDERLAND: Mignolet, Gardner, O’Shea, Bramble, Colback, Larsson, Vaughan, N’Diaye (McClean 67), Sessegnon, Johnson (Wickham 84), Fletcher. Subs not used: Westwood, Bardsley, Kilgallon, Mangane, Elmohamady. Booked: McClean (74)
SWANSEA: Tremmel, Tiendalli, Flores, Williams, Davies, Britton (Graham 75), de Guzman, Dyer, Hernandez (Lamah 66), Michu, Schechter (Su-Yeung 61). Subs not used: Cornell, Bartley, Lamah, Routledge, Rangel. Booked: Tiendalli (20), Britton (57)