Sunderland 1-1 QPR: Atmosphere brought back from the brink but signs of revival remain few and far between
It is hard to understate the importance of Aiden McGeady's fine goal, levelling the scores with half an hour to play.
The atmosphere in the aftermath of Idrissa Sylla’s opening goal was one of stunned, or perhaps not so stunned silence.
The all too familiar flatness that greets a half at the Stadium in Light in which the Black Cats start with promise but give away a goal so cheaply.
In the build-up to that goal, it began to turn and in a toxic way.
A slack start to the second half, poor passes, opposition runners not tracked, turned apathy into ire and every successful Sunderland pass was greeted with an ironic cheer.
McGeady’s strike, the quality of which would have been surprising had it not become such a regular occurrence, brought things back from the brink and Sunderland, who were freezing in a painful way, regained their composure.
No coincidence, either, that the turnaround followed the arrival of Jonny Williams, who at a difficult moment entered the fray, showed for the ball, attacked with intent and made things happen.
A point rescued, but one that exposed the fragility at this ground that is becoming a difficult environment for all, an experience to be endured rather than enjoyed. The run-up to this game had featured some cautious optimism, thanks to the return of Duncan Watmore and an encouraging display at Preston.
The performance reflected that early on, Sunderland occasionally guilty of letting the tempo slip, and certainly searching for Watmore over the top too often and too soon, but generally playing with good width and forcing Alex Smithies into action.
Of course, it did not last and that optimism was quickly exposed by another woeful goal to concede.
Sunderland let their goalkeeper be boxed in, lost a header, left themselves with a mountain to climb. Such lapses are the reason they find themselves in the lower reaches of the table, now the only side in the league not to win at home this season.
There were positives again, but too many frustrations. In particular, the way they froze in the opening stages of the second half reflected an endemic lack of confidence when things turn at home, something which the manager has been unable to change since arriving in the summer.
QPR offered little throughout the game, another average side finding themselves leaving Wearside with a result they were not stretched to achieve.
The result, and the mood, could have been worse but this was merely another afternoon that demonstrated how close Sunderland feel to the brink, on and off the field. They are becoming regulars in the bottom three and for only so long can promises of a climb carry much weight.