Rovers rue striking weakness

Blackburn Rovers 2 Sunderland 2

With each week that passes, Sam Allardyce gets another reminder of what life would be like to have a prolific goalscorer, but even that was not enough for Sunderland to end their own horrible winless run, which now stretches to seven Premier League games.

Steve Bruce has Darren Bent, who took his league tally to 13 goals for the season, and Allardyce will hope that his main transfer target, James Beattie, can play with similar reliability if he manages to sign him from Stoke at the turn of the year.

At least his team had the determination to respond after the England hopeful twice gave the visitors the lead, with Morten Gamst Pedersen and former Sunderland player El Hadji Diouf equalising on each occasion, and Chris Samba could even have secured a first victory in eight Premier League games since 22 November, but managed to hit the post from just a couple of yards in the closing stages.

"Give us a 13-goal striker like Darren Bent, we'd probably be sat eighth in the league, rather than mid-table looking down rather than up," said Allardyce, who can at least console himself with the knowledge that he knows how to get the best out of Diouf.

"I know Dioufy probably better than anybody from my time with him. I know where he comes from, how he ticks and I try to support him and get the best out of him and if he steps out of line, he gets told and gets dealt with."

Following a horrendous first half, Bent pounced on a loose ball six yards out, firing in off Samba, but Pedersen pulled Blackburn level a minute later with a thumping shot that flew in off the post.

Bent beat Paul Robinson with a low effort after racing on to Jordan Henderson's pass only for Diouf to head in a cross from another former Sunderland player, full-back Pascal Chimbonda.

Steve Bruce was without nine players due to suspension and injury and although he was frustrated at giving up the lead on two occasions, he was satisfied with a point from a game he will not have trouble forgetting.

"It was possibly the worst game of football I've ever witnessed," he said. "It was absolutely dire. We're a bit disappointed that we've taken the lead twice and not managed to hang on but with the problems we've got, nine players injured or suspended, we're down to the bare bones."

Blackburn (4-4-2): Robinson; Chimbonda, Samba, Nelsen, Givet; Hoilett (Diouf, 73), Andrews, Nzonzi, Pedersen; McCarthy (Di Santo, 73), Roberts (Kalinic, 73). Substitutes not used: Brown, Jacobsen, Olsson, Salgado.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Fulop; Bardsley, Da Silva, Nosworthy, McCartney; Henderson, Meyler, Cana, Murphy; Campbell, Bent. Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Zenden, Healy, Reed, Anderson, Noble, Liddle.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).

Booked: Blackburn McCarthy; Sunderland Nosworthy, Meyler, Bardsley, McCartney.

Man of the match: Bent.

Attendance: 25,656.

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