Stalemate at Sunderland
Connor's Wolves end run of defeats
By Adam Bate. Last Updated: 15/04/12 9:14am
Terry Connor's Wolves ended their seven-game losing run with a drab goalless draw against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
But despite a spirited display, relegation now looks inevitable for Wolves as they sit eight points from safety with just four games to play.
Sunderland, for their part, seemed like their minds were elsewhere at times - perhaps at Wembley where they could have spent the day if only they had beaten Everton in an FA Cup quarter-final replay late last month.
An uneventful first half saw both sides surrender possession on a regular basis as there seemed to be a real end-of-season feel to the contest.
But there were better opportunities for both teams after the break, few better than the headed chance that fell to winger James McClean just six yards out.
Craig Gardner crossed to the far post where McClean stooped to head the ball at goal but Wayne Hennessey saved with his legs at point-blank range.
And the visitors had an excellent chance of their own 10 minutes from time when substitute Matt Jarvis crossed only for Steven Fletcher to head too close to Simon Mignolet while unmarked seven yards from goal.
Ultimately, neither side did enough to win the game and Sunderland's impressive season under Martin O'Neill looks to be ending on a flat note.
The best chance of the first half fell to McClean with 16 minutes gone when Sebastian Larsson and Stephane Sessegnon combined to play him into space on the left side of the penalty area.
However, with just keeper Hennessey to beat, the Republic of Ireland international shot tamely into the side-netting to let the visitors off the hook.
Larsson saw a curling 22nd-minute free-kick easily saved by Hennessey, who later gratefully plucked McClean's deflected effort out of the air after almost being wrong-footed.
In the meantime, Wolves had failed to punish Mignolet for spilling Anthony Forde's effort from distance and Michael Kightly dragged a shot wide from a promising position.
But as the half wore on, it was the Black Cats who started to dominate and full-back Phil Bardsley whistled a skidding drive just wide a minute before the break.
However, the visitors headed for the dressing room with their hopes of a first win for Connor still intact.
Sunderland returned in determined mood, but were all too often let down by their final ball as they failed to build upon a series of promising beginnings.
Sessegnon embarked upon a trademark high-octane run into the visitors' penalty area with five minutes of the half played, but his shot was well-blocked by defender Christophe Berra.
The home fans were growing increasingly impatient as their side failed to trouble Hennessey despite enjoying plenty of the ball, and their mood was not improved by the sight of Mignolet having to dive low to his left to keep out Forde's well-struck shot.
Mignolet might have been picking the ball out of his net two minutes later after Sylvan Ebanks-Blake found space in the box, but drilled his effort wastefully wide.
Fletcher headed weakly at the Belgium international from Stephen Ward's 66th-minute cross with Wanderers enjoying their best spell of the game, but Nicklas Bendtner could do little better from McClean's ball at the other end three minutes later.
But the Irishman looked certain to put the home side ahead with 17 minutes remaining when he stopped to meet Gardner's cross at the far post, but saw Hennessey make a fine block.
However, it was Mignolet who had to be at his best to keep out Fletcher's 81st-minute header to deny the visitors the three points they desperately needed.
Larsson capped a disappointing afternoon for the home side when he somehow turned Sessegnon's driven 89th-minute cross over the bar when it looked easier to score, and O'Neill's men might have paid the price seconds later.Substitute David Edwards found time and space to send a dipping volley inches wide of Mignolet's right post, although the reprieve did not spare the home side a chorus of boos on the final whistle.
|Sunderland||Team Statistics||Wolverhampton Wanderers|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||5|
|9||Shots off Target||4|
|48.7||1st Half Poss.||51.3|
|53.9||2nd Half Poss.||46.1|
Barclays Premier League
|10||West Ham United||28||31|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||27||25|
Sunderland v Wolves
Simon Mignolet is determined Sunderland's season does not fizzle out as he targets a top-eight Premier League finish.
Sunderland owner and chairman Ellis Short has praised the impact of manager Martin O'Neill in bringing "top-six form" to the club.
Terry Connor was pleased with his Wolves team after picking up a first point in eight games with a 0-0 draw at Sunderland on Saturday.