Advocaat hails ‘good point’ and remains confident that Sunderland will still beat the drop

Connor Wickham revels in his early opener for Sunderland at Stoke
Connor Wickham revels in his early opener for Sunderland at Stoke

DICK ADVOCAAT is still optimistic of Sunderland’s survival prospects, despite the Black Cats dropping into the relegation zone for only the second time this season.

Sunderland produced a determined effort at Stoke City today to record their 15th Premier League draw of the campaign, albeit Advocaat’s men spurned several second half chances to come away with maximum points.

But victories elsewhere for Hull and Leicester saw Sunderland sink into the bottom three, with the Black Cats a point adrift heading into the final five games of the campaign.

Advocaat was not too dismayed at the league table though, believing his players demonstrated that there is the commitment within their ranks to avoid the drop.

“We have to do it by ourselves and today was a good point,” said Advocaat.

“We have to take it into the next game against Southampton.

“If we can keep that same commitment, I’m very positive.

“I was surprised about Hull winning away, but we have to do that as well.

“We were close in the second half, but not close enough.

“Next week it is our chance again.

“We still have five games to go and everything is open with the bottom six clubs.

“We try to be positive as a team and we showed that in the second half.”

Sunderland got off to a dream start when Connor Wickham bundled the visitors ahead after just a minute, before Jermain Defoe spurned a glorious chance to double the advantage - only two minutes before Charlie Adam levelled for Stoke.

However, that equaliser for Stoke was a deserved one, with the Potters dominating the first half and Sunderland struggling to get a foothold in midfield.

Advocaat changed his formation at the interval from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 - replacing Will Buckley and Danny Graham - and Sunderland were much-improved, with Wickham, Defoe and Billy Jones all going close.

“I think the first half we played pretty poorly and it was lucky that it stayed 1-1 at half-time, so I could change something in the line-up,” added Advocaat.

“We had some problems picking up players.

“But after the change in the second half, everyone knew what to do and from then on, we also started playing football and it was much better.

“We created three or four good opportunities, but you have to score those kind of chances at this level.”