Chris Coleman is convinced Sunderland will turn the corner in their battle to beat the drop after watching his players earn a point from a dramatic 3-3 draw with play-off chasing Middlesbrough.
The Black Cats remain rooted to the foot of the Sky Bet Championship table despite a result which leaves them four points adrift of safety as they look to avoid the drop into League One.
Callum McManaman hit a stoppage-time volley against Middlesbrough, led by the player’s former manager at West Brom, Tony Pulis, to bring an end to an entertaining Wear-Tees derby.
Sunderland had taken the lead in the 11th minute when Joel Asoro poked a finish over the line before Jake Clarke-Salter was dismissed 13 minutes later for a lunge on Adama Traore.
Boro’s Spanish winger then saw red himself for raising his hands to Bryan Oviedo after a tussle, and that led to goals galore after the break.
Patrick Bamford scored twice for Middlesbrough, with a Grant Leadbitter penalty also putting Pulis’ side on course for a win.
But Sunderland earned a point courtesy of McManaman’s late leveller after Jonny Williams had also struck.
Coleman, whose side are winless in six, losing four of those matches, said: “If we want to keep our home supporters with us, to keep them coming, then we have to keep doing what we did today and against Bolton.
“If we want to make the last dozen games uncomfortable, make it feel like five seasons long, then keep turning up like we were pre-Bolton. We have to go for it and stay in our games. That sends good messages and vibes, we did that today.
“If we do that more often than not we will get points. It’s not easy but it’s very doable. There will be a time when we win and it will change the face of everything.
“I am convinced it will come. We have to keep performing like that, even if we lacked quality in certain areas, but we created chances and gave a lot. It’s simple.
“I couldn’t argue with the red for Jake, the head loss from Jake, who has been good for us.
“Traore is their hottest player, he was a loss for them, once you have raised your hands there is only one outcome and it happened twice.
“I wouldn’t argue about either red card. We were hampered more by losing Jake than they were, even though they lose an exciting player. We lost shape.”
Middlesbrough boss Pulis was frustrated on a number of fronts.
Not only did he think the last goal arrived after the six minutes of allotted stoppage time, he also argued Oviedo should have been punished for his part in the Traore red. He was also annoyed with his players’ defending.
“We are disappointed... they score in the 97th minute not the 96th,” said Pulis. “When the corner comes in you expect it to be defended better. We conceded two goals from a long throw and a corner. That is disappointing.
“There’s really good things about this team I like, but other things they have to really toughen up to. Seeing games out, seeing things through is one of them.
“It’s the mental stuff, the crowd with the last opportunity of the game is when you puff your chest out and dig in, concentrate, I am disappointed for the fans today.
“Adama’s sending-off was a disappointment, Oviedo has walked round the back of him and poked him in the eye, Adama has raised his hands and shouldn’t have shoved him in the chest.
“I am not sure if we can appeal but if we can we will.”