Sunderland 1 Southampton 1 match report: Sunderland prolong the agony, leaving Paulo Di Canio with plenty to ponder with relegation still a possibility

Draw means both sides not mathematically safe but have hit 'crucial' 40-point tally

Paolo Di Canio tucked his hands deep in his pockets, slumped his shoulders and slowly headed down the tunnel. The furrowed brow he wore will last for at least another two days. There is much to ponder.

For the fifth time, Sunderland’s supporters watched the penultimate game of the season not knowing if they would start the following campaign in the Premier League. That is beyond careless. That explains the boos that came at full-time. Di Canio wore a tee-shirt under his suit, thanking his late parents, for a lap of thanks few stayed for. He left the jacket on.

Sunderland’s supporters deserve better. Their misery could be resolved by Tuesday night, when Wigan face Arsenal. If Wigan do not win, it would be almost inconceivable for Roberto Martinez and his players to survive. As the FA Cup final proved, however, Wigan cannot be written off. Thus Sunderland have two more days of misery and then, if Wigan win, they will travel to Tottenham with shredded nerves. Di Canio called it a miracle that his side still have their future in their own hands, but that point at Tottenham, which is what they will need to guarantee survival if Wigan beat Arsenal, is a big ask.

“The environment was dead,” Di Canio said of the club when he arrived at the start of April. “So they have already done an incredible job. There was no bond. The players were not very close together. When we stay up – and we will stay up – we will have done an incredible job.

“We have got eight points from six games. If you had offered me a contract with eight points from six games when I came, I would have signed it straight away. We have restored their way to believe.

“A point against Southampton is a small step and an important step. We didn’t deserve to be winning. Southampton played better football than us. It is difficult for us. We don’t have many players.”

Di Canio did not dwell long on the form that has brought just two points from the last three games, all against teams around them fighting relegation. He has precious little to work with. Five players who might have made an impact at White Hart Lane are not available. Sunderland have nowhere near the strength in depth not to feel the absence of Steven Fletcher, Lee Cattermole, Stéphane Sessègnon, Craig Gardner and the on-loan defender Danny Rose, who cannot play against his parent club.

His team looked like they were down to the bare bones as they fought to stop their season going down to the wire. With the scoreline level late on, Sunderland broke, with Danny Graham and the substitute Connor Wickham their only attacking options. Graham has not scored in all competitions for over 1,000 minutes. Wickham has scored once in the Premier League, and it was not this season. Such are the paltry resources Di Canio is trying to save a football club with. He was annoyed last week when there was celebration at Wigan’s loss to Swansea, and that is understandable. There is a loser’s culture at Sunderland. The failure of others can mask failings closer to home. It could change if they retain their Premier League status, but Tuesday night will see Wearside tuned in to The Emirates. Wigan not winning is by far the lesser of two evils.

Sunderland were winning yesterday, through a deflected Phil Bardsley strike that ricocheted off Jos Hooiveld in the 68th minute, but it only lasted eight minutes. It was an undeserved lead, as Di Canio admitted.

Mauricio Pochettino will not make many better substitutions than the double one he made in the 73rd minute. Three minutes later, sub one, James Ward-Prowse, crossed into the middle of the Sunderland penalty area and sub two, Jason Puncheon, put the ball past Simon Mignolet at the second attempt. The point was enough to keep Southampton in the Premier League.

“The players have been amazing in the four months I’ve been here,” said Pochettino. “It’s a very demanding league, it is very tough, you have to be mentally and physically prepared. It is especially tough in the last 10 games. We’re very happy. The club wants to keep looking forward.”

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam