Sunderland could have opened up a three-point gap and put massive pressure on the teams below, if it hadn’t been for a heartbreaking last-gasp Southampton equaliser.
For the second game running, Sunderland did the hard work by scoring first, but they can’t hang onto a lead as they continue to waste points and make things as difficult for themselves as possible.
A goal up with just 90 seconds to go, and with an extra man advantage after Jose Fonte’s red card, what could possible go wrong?
But then Virgil van Dijk’s equaliser left me feeling as bad as last year’s hiding at the same ground.
It’s frustrating because before the game, most fans would have taken a draw as a point gained, especially as both Newcastle and Norwich went on to lose.
But the fact that two points were thrown away makes it almost feel like a defeat.
Saturday’s missed opportunity was just the latest in a season that’s been full of them, but if it wasn’t for our lowly league position, the performance would have been viewed as one with plenty of positives.
Just like the West Ham game, Sunderland played a good team in the top half, yet there was very little between them, with the visitors probably having the better chances.
Younes Kaboul and Lamine Kone starting the game as a partnership for the first time and complemented each other well. There’s not many centre-back pairings in the Premier League with the power of those two.
I was also pleased to see Fabio Borini start – his appetite for hard work adds energy to the team and he was unlucky not to score. I hope he’s in the team for the remainder of the campaign.
Sunderland have played better than their points return shows for more than a month now. Games against Man City, West Ham and now Southampton were all ones where points have slipped away, so they must learn to be more clinical and ruthless.
That 1-0 win – ugly or otherwise – where it’s a case of job-done is Sam Allardyce’s Holy Grail and he was agonisingly close to one on the south coast.
When the fourth official put up his board for four extra minutes, Big Sam must have felt he’d got everything just right.
But he’s joined a club that by accident or design, never do things the easy way, as a morale-boosting win was cruelly snatched away.