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Match Report: Southampton 1 - 1 Sunderland - Moyes Boys Off The Mark

A solid team performance from Sunderland saw them take a well earned point on their visit to the south coast. Yet another late equaliser denied The Black Cats an impressive win but they can take a lot of heart from a good display and getting a good result.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Another year without a win in August for Sunderland but they can be optimistic about the season ahead after a good display, away to a decent Southampton team. It looked like Jermain Defoe's penalty was going to set The Black Cats up for a surprising win, only to have it cruelly snatched away from them when Jordan Pickford, who had been excellent up until this point, allowed Jay Rodriguez's meek effort to go under his body.

It's still a point that David Moyes should be pleased with though, as should the supporters. There were periods of the game, especially in the first half, where Sunderland were by far superior as they put in their best performance out of their three league games so far.

Despite looking shaky in the early stages, the visitors bossed first half. Playing their first game together, Papy Djiobodji and Lamine Kone didn't look initially comfortable and allowed the home side a few shooting opportunities. Southampton also targeted Sunderland's left hand side but Patrick van Aanholt dealt with everything that came his way astutely. There was danger when Charlie Austin picked the ball up around 25 yards from goal and elected to shoot just outside the area. The shot had to be dealt with by Pickford, tipping it around the post for a corner, and it looked like it would be difficult afternoon for Sunderland.

David Moyes side settled into the game though and they prevented Saints from causing Pickford any further trouble. The same couldn't be said for Claude Puel, who watched his side gift the visitors the best chance of the game. A dangerous corner from Patrick van Aanholt was only half cleared and the wing back swung the ball back in to the back post. It was met by Kone and St Mary's waited for the net to bulge, but the header flew wide. A real let off for Southampton, especially when there was also a push on Fabio Borini and no one could have complained if referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot.

Last seasons heartbreaker Virgil van Dijk was being kept on his toes by Jermain Defoe. A quick ball from Djilobodji, who passed well throughout the match, almost got the striker in behind, likewise when Borini played the ball over the top from the attacking right. A low cross into the box from Manquillo saw Defoe nip in ahead of the sleepwalking van Dijk but a heavy touch allowed Foster to claim.

A much brighter Southampton came out for the start of the second half but they continued to fail to test Pickford. The offside flag became the thorn in Charlie Austin's side, as his eagerness kept getting the better of him, which spurned a couple of promising looking positions for his team. Credit to Moyes' side for keeping Saints to long efforts, Jack Rodwell was having a very good game and organising the midfield well. Maybe, just maybe, that type of performance from him can become a regular occurrence under Moyes. Sunderland created themselves in the first fifteen of the second period though, the best chance coming when Adnan Januzaj's brilliant run ended in him being fouled on the edge of the box by Jose Fonte. The free kick was a tame effort from Borini though and Fraser Foster gathered comfortably.

There was a flurry of chances for Southampton around the 70 minute mark but Pickford stood up to every test. Nathan Redmond shot straight at Pickford after getting into a good position and was then denied again just a few minutes later from 25 yards out. In between the Redmond efforts, substitute Shane Long saw his powerful drive met by the strong glove of the England Under 21 international. It was a period of the game where Sunderland were sitting deeper but they still posed a threat going forward.

Their threat wasn't without purpose either, as they took the lead with just under ten minutes to go, rewarding Pickford for his big part in them weathering a Southampton storm. Substitute Jeremain Lens was released down the right and found Defoe in the box who got ahead of Fonte. The Saints captain, who was sent off in this fixture last season, could only foul the striker and Lee Mason had only once choice. The penalty was despatched expertly, high to the keepers right, and Sunderland looked set to break their August hoodoo.

This is St Mary's though. Where Sunderland suffer hammerings and cruel equalisers, in recent years. We'd witnessed Jordan Pickford be commanding in goal but when Rodriguez's not-too-troubling looking shot reached the goalmouth, the young keeper allowed the ball to run underneath him and Southampton were level. Perhaps you could argue that the hosts didn't deserve to lose, it had been a fairly even game, but they didn't deserve to beat Pickford like that.

Both Sunderland and Pickford can't focus on just that one moment though. For long stretches of the game, Sunderland didn't look like a team desperate for key players to come back to full fitness or a one that is still scrambling for reinforcements in the transfer window. So if that's what David Moyes is getting out of the team that isn't even his best eleven, then we should all be excited for the end of the international break when he'll have the team he wants.

It may feel like it's two points dropped today, given the manner of the result, but Sunderland are off the mark and not looking like the relegation candidates of recent years.

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