PHIL Bardsley admits Sunderland’s deficiencies in front of goal are to blame for leaving their top-half hopes on the brink.
Sunderland head into the final day of the campaign two points adrift of 10th-placed West Brom after extending their winless Premier League run to seven with a 2-1 defeat at Fulham yesterday.
The Black Cats could – and should – have come away with something for their efforts after Stephane Sessegnon, Nicklas Bendtner and Fraizer Campbell spurned glorious opportunities either side of Bardsley’s stunning second of the season.
But as in their inability to beat bottom six incumbents Wolves, Aston Villa and Bolton last month, Sunderland paid the price for their profligacy in the final third, and must now record a first league victory over Manchester United in 15 years to finish in the top 10 for a second successive season.
Bardsley told the Gazette: “We’ve got to take our chances when we get them.
“Not just yesterday. In recent weeks, we should have taken our chances but we haven’t done that. We need to work on that for next season.
“We set out at the beginning of the season to finish in the top half, but we’ve had a lot of draws over recent weeks and it sets you back when you really should be picking up points against the teams down at the bottom.
“No disrespect to those who are down there. Wolves and Bolton came to our place and made it hard for us and did well. They’re fighting for their lives.
“But it’s up to us to break them down, and we didn’t do that.
“It all comes down to the fact that we need to score more goals.
“Nicklas has bent one over the top and you’d put your money on Fraizer from there. He’s not hit the target which is the most disappointing thing.”
When Sunderland did find the net at Craven Cottage, their euphoria was short-lived.
Bardsley had cancelled out Clint Dempsey’s opener with a sweetly-struck 20-yard screamer before Moussa Dembele restored Fulham’s lead within 30 seconds of the restart.
“It’s so disappointing when you can’t score goals,” added Bardsley.
“When we do get back in the game, we shoot ourselves in the foot.
“It was good play on the right-hand side, it came across to the left and after a bit of link-up play, I’ve let one go and it’s flew in.
“But it was so disappointing to concede seconds after that. It just took all the gloss off the goal.
“We created a few chances, didn’t take them and it wasn’t to be.
“We played well and knocked the ball about and were unfortunate not to take something from the game.”