Cats Eye View: Could attack be the best form of defence for Sunderland?
Sunderland never do it the easy way do they?
Leading 1-0 at the break through Dame N’Doye’s fortunate first goal in a red and white shirt, Sunderland were in a strong position.
Yet within the space of five second-half minutes, their lead had crumbled, with former striker Connor Wickham returning to the Stadium of Light with a brace.
For the next 25 minutes Sunderland barely strung a pass together, failing to maintain possession or cause Palace many problems.
Fans were leaving the stadium as the final few minutes ticked by, angry that their side had thrown away a winning position.
Then, out of nothing, Fabio Borini, fired in a sensational strike from the edge of the area - Wayne Hennessey could do nothing but watch it fly in.
It was a stunning finish.
And as he sprinted towards the bench with his fist firmly clenched in his mouth and his arm outstretched, weeks of frustration spilled out.
It was noticeable he didn’t celebrate with Allardyce but he had made his point nonetheless.
On his day, Borini can be the hero.
And despite N’Doye’s goal, the Italian should be in from the start against Southampton on Saturday.
This was a game Sunderland should have won. No question.
But at least they salvaged something from the game, a point that saw them move out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
They could be back in it tonight. And with 10 games to go, there will be many more twists and turns before the season is out.
But one thing Allardyce is desperate to see his side keep, is a clean sheet.
This was their 14th straight match without one in the Premier League.
That is an abysmal stat and if they are to stand any chance of staying up then they are going to have to keep a shut out sooner, rather than later.
The injury sustained to captain John O’Shea could be a major factor in that run being extended.
The game was wide open but O’Shea made several key interventions before being forced off.
Younes Kaboul slotted in alongside Lamine Kone but the defence fell apart after the break, with clinical Wickham – not often you hear that – taking full advantage.
With Sunderland seemingly unable to keep a clean sheet, their kamikaze approach last night eventually helped then get a point.
After all, they had no choice but to go for it late on.
Allardyce has tried for months to make his side a more solid defensive unit.
The additions of Kone and Jan Kirchhoff in front have helped, but they have still gone without a clean sheet since the end of November.
Could attack, therefore, be Sunderland’s best form of defence? Does Allardyce have the attacking players though?
Wahbi Khazri was a threat in the opening 45 minutes, Jack Rodwell impressed on his return to the starting line-up but N’Doye struggled again his goal aside.
Jermain Defoe was left far too isolated and had to make do with a couple of half chances, comfortably saved by Hennessey.
Allardyce needs to find a balance but the early withdrawal of Kirchhoff didn’t help matters.
He departed after Wickham’s equaliser and Palace dominated the play from then on.
The German played well first half, comfortable in possession and looking to get Sunderland moving quickly.
But worryingly he faded again second half and struggled to play two games in a short space of time.
He is a key Sunderland player but his stamina remains an issue.
Last night’s game wasn’t a must win. Basic arithmetic will tell you that but it had the feeling of one going into the game.
In the end, Sunderland had to settle for a point but this was another big opportunity missed.