Mar 15, 2014, 1:07 PM EDT
A strong performance from Sunderland only amounted to a mere point, as the Black Cats could not finish their myriad chances in a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace.
It wasn’t the cleanest of matches, with plenty of discipline and sloppy play confounding the flow.
With the point, Palace stays three points ahead of 18th place Sunderland and 19th place Cardiff City. The Black Cats are also three points behind West Brom and have two matches in hand on both clubs Palace and the Baggies.
Sunderland had a dangerous free kick in the second minute, but Speroni was on the case and kept things level.
Steven Fletcher was an impact maker early, with Sunderland’s attack hinging on his decisions. The day was very windy and conditions kept the squads on their toes.
The 10th minute found Ki racing down the left side of the 18 and firing an ideal low pass across the six, but while it skipped through a bevy of Palace defenders, there was no Black Cat on the end.
Joel Ward picked up a yellow in the 13th minute for a rash challenge that was right on the borderline of earning the Eagles something much worse.
Ki found Sunderland’s next best chance off a poor clearance in the 30th minute, but his half-volley blazed wide of the goal.
Fletcher’s cries for a PK in the 36th minute went unheeded after he was shouldered down going for a header on the back post. Phil Bardsley almost certainly deserved a PK after being manhandled in the box about four minutes later, but again nothing was given.
South African player Kagisho Dikgacoi picked up a yellow card just before the break for a late tackle.
The first half was simply controlled by Sunderland, evidenced by a near bicycle kick goal from Fabio Borini, whose effort tore through the air but over the bar.
Fletcher didn’t return after limping before half, meaning Jozy Altidore was cleared for a 45-minute run at the Stadium of Light. Bardsley nearly had to sub off soon after going head-to-head with Joe Ledley.
Altidore then made a great run but couldn’t fire on goal inside the box, inspiring a pundit comment of “if his touch was anywhere near decent, he’s on goal.”
There was a scary moment after 64 minutes, as Dann took a knee to the head from his own teammate.
Palace had a moment in the 75th minute when their corner was flicked toward goal by Jerome, but Mannone was wise to the shot.
When Wes Brown picked up Sunderland’s fourth yellow card in the 79th minute, just 25 yards from goal, it made it an even 8 yellows between the teams on the day.
Sunderland dominated the second half overall but Palace nearly found the winner in the 89th minute from Digkacoi, who fired wide.
Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Alonso, O’Shea (c), Brown, Bridcutt, Ki, Larsson (Gardner, 62), Johnson (Scocco, 84), Borini, Fletcher (Altidore, 46)
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Bolasie (Puncheon, 81), Digkacoi, Jedinak, Ledley, Ince (Guedioura, 74), Murray (Jerome, 63).
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