Writer: Michael Briggs
Date:Tuesday February 2 2010
It was another bad day at the office for Sunderland tonight, making it 11 games with out a win as they were held to a 0-0 draw against Stoke City.
The Stadium of Light seemed to be in an impatient frame of mind and it reflected on the pitch with a mediocre game of football.
Stoke had the better chance when former captain Dean Whitehead was sent through by Tuncay for a one on one resulting in a fine save from keeper` Craig Gordon.
Later on Ryan Shawcross looked to have fouled Kenwyne Jones after a clear shirt pull and Robert Huth clearly handled the ball in what was a frustration night for the home side.
Whitehead then could have been sent off when he kicked out at the returning Lee Cattermole off the ball.
The Black Cats were at full strength but could not challenge a stoke side which have failed to score in the last five away games.
The first real chance for the home side came when Steed Malbranque`s left foot shot failed to challenge former Sunderland keeper Thomas Sorenson. Kenwyne Jones later had a shot saved later in the first half.
The Potters then had a goal scrambled off the line early in the second half when Glenn Whelan`s delivery to the back post had Danny Higginbotham at the back hooking into the danger area. Mamady Sidibe`s shot was brilliantly cleared by Jones.
Substitute Bolo Zenden`s cross shot almost curled in but it would be another frustrating night for Sunderland.
Referee Howard Webb then misses a blatant handball by the tall German Huth only adding more fury in the Stadium of Light.
With the home crowd getting increasingly frustrated at the quality on display Sunderland had one breakaway when Jones sent Bent free and his cross was cleared as Lorik Cana steamed in for a header.
Jeer`s echoed round the stadium at full time, more likely to be aimed at Webb than the players.
But Steve Bruce believes his side was out done by a poor performance by England`s current top Referee.
He said, 'It looked like a blatant handball to me.
'We had a player sent off for a genuine challenge last month - I don't want anyone sent off but it looked like a kick from Dean Whitehead.
'There was resilience about us. It was never a classic, in fact it was a horror story, but it was a point on the board and a little springboard that we need.'
Bruce will want to stop the rot when his side take on Wigan Athletic on Saturday at home, with new on-loan signing Alan Hutton likely to be in the squad.
Benjani must wait for the FA to clear his paper work if he has any chance of making the squad for the weekend.
Date:Tuesday February 2 2010
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