Martin O’Neill pleased with effort of beaten Black Cats

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill on the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match at White Hart Lane, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 18, 2011. See PA story SOCCER Tottenham. Photo credit should read: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill on the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match at White Hart Lane, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 18, 2011. See PA story SOCCER Tottenham. Photo credit should read: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Maximum 45 images during a match. No video emulation or promotion as 'live'. No use in games, competitions, merchandise, betting or single club/player services. No use with unofficial audio, video, data, fixtures or club/league logos.

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MARTIN O’Neill left White Hart Lane last night knowing that although Tottenham Hotspur were the better side on the day, Sunderland might still have cone away with a point.

Without several of their star players, Spurs were not as slick as they would have hoped to have been.

And the Black Cats’ boss felt his side’s mission to smother the game was on course to succeed, only for Sunderland to shoot themselves in the foot.

Occasional unforced errors from the visitors were always a concern and just after the hour there was one misplaced pass too many when Spurs took advantage and scored the only goal of the game.

“I’m disappointed to lose the match,” said O’Neill. “I thought in terms of effort, I couldn’t ask for much more from them.

“We were a bit misguided here and there during the game but overall, certainly, there were a lot of things that were good about us and I particularly liked the fact that we never stopped going.”

O’Neill never gave up hoping himself that having gone behind – just as Sunderland did in his first game against Blackburn Rovers – they might still be able to get something at the death.

“It was unrelenting stuff from a really fine Spurs side,” he said.

“But unfortunately, in the game, the only goal has been scored with us in decent possession.

“We gave it away and Tottenham pounced on it.

“I know we could easily have lost by more when we went chasing the game but while it was still 1-0, we felt we had a real chance.”

FULL STORY IN MONDAY’s MAIL ...