O'Neill: 'Naming six subs not making a point'
Sunderland forced an F.A Cup 3rd round replay against Championship Bolton Wanderers thanks to two second-half goals on Saturday.
Strikes from Connor Wickham and Craig Gardner rescued Martin O'Neill's side after Chung-Yong Lee and Marvin Sordell had given the Trotters a two-goal advantage.
O'Neill was only able to name six substitutes - one less than is allowed, with John O'Shea, Wes Brown, Stephane Sessegnon, Lee Cattermole and Louis Saha all missing and Ji Dong-Won having left on-loan in the week.
Speaking to BBC Sport afterwards, O'Neill denied that he had merely been making a point to owner Ellis Short:
'It [naming just six substitutes] was not a point whatsoever, it is the way things fell,' stated the Ulsterman.
'We couldn't change it much today because we couldn't fill the bench but we treat the competition with its proper merit.
'We had 5,000 people spend a lot of hard-earned money to come down and support us and they deserved better than we were serving up in the first half,' admitted O'Neill.
Trotters' boss Dougie Freedman praised his side's effort, despite their throwing away a 2-0 lead:
'From a 2-0 lead I'm disappointed but overall I'm thrilled with the result because I thought we showed great commitment and desire at the end to defend for our lives.'
'Overall, it was the old cliche of a game of two halves. It was a great tie to watch and in the end we had to dig in and defend - and that was part of the game.'