O'Neill taking positives

Black Cats boss has no qualms after even contest with Bolton

Martin O'Neill: Relieved his side ended a drought in draw with Sunderland

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Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill admits his relief at watching his side end a barren run of over four games without scoring.

The Black Cats drew 2-2 at home to Bolton on Saturday, with Nicklas Bendtner netting their first goal in over seven hours of football with his first-half strike.

It was their first goal since Sebastian Larsson's second-half goal at Manchester City last month, and James McClean added another after the break.

Despite his relief, O'Neill believes Sunderland should have notched more against the Trotters, but few complaints over the result.

"We've finally got off the mark, we hadn't scored for a number of games, so that was pleasing to get two goals," he told Sky Sports.

"He's been terrific for us, he's been a genuine spark. It didn't just light up and disappear after two or three games - he has kept it going."

Martin O'Neill on James McClean

Quotes of the week

"We could have scored a few more, but then again we could have conceded a few more. In that sense, we're disappointed not to get the three points.

'Fair reflection'

"Having said that, Bolton battled all afternoon, they never gave up and a point apiece probably is a fair reflection."

Kevin Davies put the visitors in front before Bendtner equalised after being put through on goal via a delightful pass from Jack Colback.

McClean's free-kick put the hosts in front, only for Sunderland to be pegged back by Davies' second of the game 20 minutes from time.

O'Neil added: "We showed ability to fight back and it's just general disappointment that we didn't go on to win the game because, at 2-1, we were reasonably comfortable at that stage.

"Up until when Bolton first scored, we were playing second fiddle to them. They were strong and were outmuscling us."

McClean was once again at the forefront of all things positive from a Sunderland perspective and O'Neill singled the 22-year-old out for keeping his momentum with his sixth goal of the season.


"He's been terrific for us, he's been a genuine spark. It didn't just light up and disappear after two or three games - he has kept it going," said the former Celtic manager.

O'Neill disappointed with draw

"He has been terrific for us and I dread to think where we'd be at this stage without him.

"He gives us so much and his enthusiasm to drive on and get back and help out is immense - a real shining light."

Meanwhile, O'Neill was impressed with the contribution of goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who returned to the starting line-up after a lengthy lay-off through injury.

"We had thought about this for a long time, but Simon Mignolet has been fantastic for us," said O'Neill.

"But Craig is now fighting for fitness and it was just an opportunity to see him play. I thought he did very well in the match.

"It's the one place we look as if we're reasonably strong - we have some excellent goalkeepers."