Sunderland 1 West Bromwich Albion 1

Gera leaves McCarthy with a bitter aftertaste
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The Independent Football

"My mother told me there would be days like these," admitted the Sunderland manager. "But she didn't tell me when or how many. I'm very disappointed as is everyone connected with the club. I feel very bitter, twisted, sore, narked and angry. I'm sure I could describe that better, but that's the way I feel. It really knocks the stuffing out of you."

Through the inevitable gloom, McCarthy issued a stern warning to anyone considering offering professional counselling in the wake of a draw - Sunderland's first point in 21 Premiership games - that felt more like a defeat. "I don't want a whole shit-load of psychologists on the phone, saying 'we will help you deal with the rigours of the Premiership'. We don't need that. We'll get it through lessons like this."

Three minutes into injury time the Hungarian midfielder Gera, who only played after being put on an intensive programme to combat dehydration, appeared through a goulash of tangled bodies to head the kind of equaliser for which the adjective "dramatic" was made. Sunderland's crestfallen players, almost to a man, slumped to the turf, their hopes of a first top-flight victory in almost three years dashed as their opponents unfurled wild celebrations in front of their travelling support. The equaliser had been coming. Sunderland had enjoyed a let-off seconds earlier when Justin Hoyte cleared off the line from Ronnie Wallwork, but there was to be no similar escape from Diomansy Kamara's resulting corner.

The hosts left themselves open to such an unwanted denouement because of an inability to kill the contest after being given a seventh-minute lead through Gary Breen. The Sunderland captain, who has come under the microscope following some unconvincing displays on his return to the top flight, answered his critics in unexpected fashion with a powerful header from Dean Whitehead's driven corner. But there was to be no doubling of the advantage, as Chris Kirkland saved from Whitehead, and Julio Arca sent a crisp drive narrowly wide.

West Bromwich are without a win in four games, and a point papers over the cracks at The Hawthorns. "I thought the game had gone, and there would have been a lot of pressure on me had we not got that goal," admitted their manager, Bryan Robson, who handed a debut to £3m defender Curtis Davies.

"That would have been unfair on us because I was pleased with our performance. We were chasing it and that gave Sunderland chances, but we didn't deserve to lose. We showed signs of what we were good at last year and hopefully that's us turned the corner now."

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