Stoke 0 Sunderland 0
Stoke and Sunderland each recorded a sixth Barclays Premier League draw of the season after playing out a goalless stalemate at the Britannia Stadium.
In a game lacking in real quality and featuring some feisty tackling, Potters wideman Michael Kightly saw a shot cleared away by the head of Carlos Cuellar in the first half.
Charlie Adam was unable to finish for the hosts from Geoff Cameron’s tee-up after the break and Black Cats striker Steven Fletcher’s penalty claims went unheeded after his shot looked to have hit Robert Huth’s arm.
Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet then did well to deny Huth from close range and Kightly struck wide in stoppage time.
The two sides went into the contest with a combined record of 10 draws from 15 league games this season, so a sharing of the points was perhaps the inevitable outcome.
In a scrappy opening, Kightly was released down the left in the 14th minute but made a mess of his cross and Sunderland winger Adam Johnson’s deflected shot earned a corner which amounted to nothing.
Craig Gardner then slotted the ball into the danger zone where Potters goalkeeper Asmir Begovic dived on it with the sliding Jack Colback advancing.
Begovic’s opposite number Mignolet pushed away a curling free-kick from Adam and the ball came to Ryan Shawcross, whose mis-hit volley was also saved by the Belgian stopper.
Colback tried his luck from distance to no avail before Kightly sent a shot towards the top corner around the half-hour mark, with Cuellar on hand to head behind and Mignolet punching away the resulting corner under pressure from Shawcross.
Cuellar was then on attacking duty, nodding wide from Sebastian Larsson’s free-kick.
A half of few legitimate attempts on goal was summed up towards the end as Marc Wilson and Adam lashed ambitious efforts well off-target.
Wilson sustained an injury soon after the restart from a challenge on Fletcher which led to him being carried off the pitch on a stretcher, Andy Wilkinson being brought on to replace him.
Larsson was next to look worse for wear, being left on the turf following a tackle from former Black Cats man Dean Whitehead – who was booked – and after Johnson had drilled over the bar, the Swede came off for Stephane Sessegnon.
With just under 20 minutes to go, Cameron pulled the ball back in the box for Adam, who was falling as he shot and saw Mignolet easily claim his effort.
Fletcher then suddenly found himself in space in the area and struck the ball against Huth, with the ball appearing to hit the defender’s arm.
Fletcher appealed for a spot-kick, but referee Mark Halsey waved play on.
Stoke substitute Matthew Etherington had a shot blocked, and after Gardner had been booked for a wild challenge on Wilkinson, Mignolet produced a point-blank save to keep out Huth’s header.
The fourth official signalled for eight minutes of stoppage time to be played and Stoke cranked up the pressure.
Mignolet got down to save another Huth header before pushing the ball away from Peter Crouch to Kightly, who fired wide.
Another Potters substitute, Michael Owen, stooped to head in a cross but John O’Shea got there first and Stoke’s Steven Nzonzi then shot too high as the additional minutes proved not enough to separate the teams.