SUNDERLAND failed to score for the fourth game in a row this afternoon as their slow grind towards the end of the season continued.
Post-match replays, though, might suggest that they should have left with all three points after Nicklas Bendtner’s “goal” quarter-of-an-hour from time was ruled offside when it appeared an awfully tight decision.
Martin O’Neill’s return to his former club – subdued boos from home fans greeted his walk up the touchline – almost got off to a disastrous start with Simon Mignolet having to make a double save in the opening minute.
But the better chances in the game fell to Sunderland with the Wearsiders the stronger side in a second half.
Bendtner headed over the bar from inside the six-yard box just before the break, James McClean should have scored instead of side-footing over from six yards just after half-time.
And then there was the decisive moment of the match when Bendtner’s effort was chalked of.
Aston Villa were positive and had their chances but were wayward in their finishing on an afternoon when Sunderland might easily have got the win which would have strongly consolidated their place in the top half of the table.
Read Graeme Anderson’s full match report in tomorrow’s Sportmail.