Blackpool boss makes Sunderland claim fans will love
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Blackpool sit in the Championship relegation zone after the draw extended their winless run to nine, but Appleton was pleased with aspects of his team's performance.
Though his side are yet to face runaway duo Burnley or Sheffield United on home turf, his comments underline the growing confidence with which Sunderland are playing.
The Black Cats were also dealing with a raft of injury and illness issues as they brought a successful festive period to an end with a point.
"I thought for 60-65 minutes we went toe-to-toe with them and it made for a good game, a bit like a game of basketball really," Appleton told The Blackpool Gazette.
"But we knew for us to compete and get something from the game it had to be like that.
“We scored a good goal, a quality goal. It was good timing of the pass, good timing of the run and a good finish.
“Obviously the second goal eluded us but we had a couple of opportunities. When they did equalise it became difficult for us but the lads stood up to the pressure, defended excellently at times and because of the way we defended and contributed in the first-half, I felt we deserved a point.
“Sunderland are a top team. I’d arguably say they’re the best side that have been here this season.
“The athleticism, the dynamism of the front four, the way they move the ball, two-touch, it’s everything you’d want from a balanced team and squad.
“Fair play to Tony [Mowbray], he’s got them playing well and they’re obviously in a good moment so we were playing them in a good spell.
“They’re as good as I’ve seen come here this season.”
Sunderland will return to action in the FA Cup next weekend when they travel to face Shrewsbury Town.