Chris Young: Sunderland have to reap the rewards from Lady Luck smiling at Stoke

Vito Mannone

Vito Mannone

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Lady Luck has just kissed Sunderland on both cheeks and winked suggestively.

Whether Sunderland can take advantage of that is the BIG question heading into the final week of a relegation battle which promises to go all the way to a dramatic last day.

Never has fallen into the drop zone felt quite so positive after Jermain Defoe's stoppage-time penalty at least earned Sunderland an ill-deserved share of the spoils at the Britannia Stadium.

Yes, Sunderland would have revelled if Yohan Cabaye had converted a penalty on his former stomping ground for Crystal Palace, yet the difference between one point and no points is significant for the Black Cats as they look to chase down fourth bottom Newcastle.

Seven points from the last three games will now guarantee Sunderland finish above Newcastle, albeit no-one should be discounting Norwich.

Before the 93rd minute in the Potteries, Sunderland would have needed nine points out of nine, to be completely sure of being above the Magpies.

But if Sunderland are to achieve that tally, then they can afford no more repeats of their display against Stoke because they were absolutely rank. It was as bad as they've been in 2016.

Sunderland seemed paralysed by anxiety.

There was no spring in the step, no real energy and certainly no attacking conviction after it was all too easy for a Stoke side, who had shipped 12 goals in their previous three games.

Stoke's defence was clearly nervy in the opening stages, while there was a Premier League rookie in goal in Jakob Haugaard. Neither were really tested.

Even when Allardyce threw on his substitutes, the pattern remained the same, at least until Defoe's stoppage time intervention.

Allardyce has to ensure that this is a one-off; a no-show which doesn't end up costing Sunderland top flight survival.

At least, it wasn't a performance which left Sunderland coming away empty-handed.