Sunderland 1-1 Stoke

O'Shea hails Sunderland spirit

May 7, 2013
By ESPN staff

Sunderland's John O'Shea praised the character of his team-mates after snatching a 1-1 draw with Stoke at the Stadium of Light on Monday.

O'Shea scored on 63 minutes to salvage what could be a crucial competition point as the relegation battle intensifies.

The home side had Craig Gardner sent off for a tackle on Charlie Adam after only 34 minutes, which followed an early goal from Stoke's Jonathan Walters. However, O'Shea's strike moved Sunderland above Newcastle and Norwich on goal difference on 38 points, three above Wigan, who play Swansea on Tuesday.

"We have to make sure we focus on Southampton now. It's a massive game at home [on Sunday] and we have one or two knocks and suspensions again so we will have to dust ourselves down and go again," O'Shea told Sky Sports 1.

"The manager spoke at half-time about how positive we were for the last 20 minutes of the first half and carrying that forward.

"(Injuries and suspensions are) the test of character we have to have in the squad. It gives a chance to some of the younger lads to get experience.

"We dust ourselves down. If Danny Graham keeps working as hard as he did tonight on Sunday he will get his rewards."

Sunderland manager Di Canio hailed his side's spirit after they played much of the game a man short.

He said: "I'm very happy with the way we were after the first half when Craig was sent off.

"It was a tough moment for us. At the end, the second half and the last 15 mins of the first half, I saw the team I wanted to see, playing football with enthusiasm and character. It is obvious that we had to stop what we did last week."

When asked if he will watch Wigan play tomorrow, Di Canio said: "No, because last time I watched them they won. I want to relax tomorrow."

Stoke manager Tony Pulis, meanwhile, was relieved to be out of the relegation dogfight.

He said: "We are pleased that we've got that point. That takes us to 41. There are a lot of teams down there this time around.

"I'm amazed it isn't sorted out yet. It's one of those funny seasons. It seems to have happened at all levels, not just the Premier League.

"The players are coming with the right attitude. Their spirit was fantastic. When you go down to 10 men, you had to battle away. They had nothing to lose and we had everything to lose."

"You've got to give Sunderland credit. They displayed a lot of spirit and a lot of togetherness."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.