SUNDERLAND’S dismal Premier League run now stands at one win in 14 after they were held to a lacklustre stalemate by visiting Stoke last night.
The Potters had the better of the chances, with former Black Cat Dean Whitehead twice going close, but the hosts had a strong penalty appeal for handball turned down after an hour.
Whitehead was lucky to get away with a caution after kicking out at Lee Cattermole in the first half, but neither side truly deserved three points.
Sunderland defender Michael Turner said: “It was a sloppy game, not too nice to play in to be honest.
“We thought we were going to nick it in the second half but it wasn’t to be and we are happy with a clean sheet.
“We’ve been disappointing of late but are working hard and going in the right direction.”
In just the third minute, good work from Tuncay allowed Whitehead through on goal. The midfielder should have done better with the space but Craig Gordon smothered well.
Kenwyne Jones forced Thomas Sorensen into action in the 10th minute after Michael Turner nodded Andy Reid’s free-kick into his path, but his shot lacked power.
Steed Malbranque fizzed an effort just wide of the post before Ryan Shawcross was forced into a smart clearance.
A clever dummy from Darren Bent in the 31st minute gave Malbranque an opening but having taken the ball down his shot lacked venom.
Jones twice felt he had been held in the penalty area but referee Howard Webb was unmoved. Webb was under the spotlight again when he handed Whitehead a booking for kicking out at Cattermole.
Two minutes after the restart Stoke had two fine chances.
Mamady Sidibe almost converted following a chipped Whelan free-kick, then Whitehead attempted to drill home the loose ball only for Mensah to deflect it over the crossbar from point-blank range.
Steve Bruce’s side hit back and Bent had a strong penalty appeal turned down after 61 minutes when Robert Huth appeared to stop his lofted pass with his arm.
A sprinting Ricardo Fuller almost broke the deadlock with nine minutes to play but Gordon stood firm to parry, while Huth headed wide from a 90th-minute corner.
“We knew it was a difficult place to come,” said Whitehead. “It was a scrappy game but we’ll take a point and build on that.”
SUNDERLAND: Gordon, Mensah, Turner, Kilgallon, McCartney, Malbranque (Campbell 69), Cattermole (Henderson 89), Cana, Reid (Zenden 69), Bent, Jones.
STOKE: Sorensen, Huth, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye (Wilkinson 17), Higginbotham, Diao (Delap 74), Whitehead, Whelan, Etherington, Sanli (Fuller 62), Sidibe.
Referee: Howard Webb.
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