Sam Allardyce was left to rue some controversial officiating during Sunderland’s 2-2 draw with Watford, but overall was pleased with his team’s end to the Premier League season.
The visitors twice went in front at Vicarage Road through Jack Rodwell and Jeremain Lens, but on two occasions were denied seemingly legitimate goals by the offside flag.
Duncan Watmore and Dame N’Doye were the unfortunate men – each would have given Sunderland a two-goal lead – before Troy Deeney salvaged a point for Watford after a questionable penalty was awarded when John O’Shea was ruled to have fouled Jose Manuel Jurado.
Nevertheless, Allardyce reflected on the positives at the end of a season that saw Sunderland secure survival in their penultimate game, a 3-0 win over Everton on Wednesday.
“There were a few decisions that didn’t go our way,” said Sunderland boss Allardyce.
“The fans came down and they sang all the way through and were entertained; they got to see some of our younger players, who I think stood up to the test and played very well indeed.
“We created a huge amount of chances and we got in front twice. The killer for us was Duncan’s goal – that would have made it 2-0 and I think it should have been allowed, however it wasn’t to be.
“Eleven games, one defeat; no defeats in the last six games and 12 points from those games.”
Allardyce made nine changes from the side that defeated Everton, with debutants Rees Greenwood and Tom Robson handed a start, while George Honeyman made his first Premier League appearance as a second-half substitute.
“Watford played a full-strength side and we only had a couple of players that have been involved in our last seven games,” Allardyce said. “What we’ve seen stands us in good stead for the future.
“We have to make sure we go into next season, build on this and don’t start the way we have done the last few years. We need a good start and to look much better, that’s what we need to concentrate on.
“For now, that was a brilliant send-off for the fans – we matched Watford in every department and what we saw was very pleasing, they could enjoy their day.”