Stoke City were held 0-0 by Sunderland at the Britannia Stadium in a match overshadowed by Marc Wilson suffering a suspected broken fibula.
Wilson, capped three times by the Republic of Ireland, came out worst from a collision with Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher five minutes into the second half and had to be stretchered off.
He was taken immediately to a local hospital where early reports suggested a broken fibula while his team-mates failed to capitalise on a late spell of dominance to take all three points against Martin O'Neill's Black Cats.
The draw brings both teams up to nine points in the bottom half of the Premier League table, with Sunderland having played one game less.
With only Stoke’s superior goal difference of one separating the two sides before kick-off, an unspectacularly even encounter was the safe bet.
And though the hosts began brightly with five minutes of confident passing football, the first half grew as stalemated as widely expected with serious opportunities at either goal few and far between.
The Potters edged their guests in terms of what opportunities were to be found, however, with Simon Mignolet forced into a good double parry from a right-wing set piece on 21 minutes
Seven minutes later, Carlos Cuellar had to head a spectacular 20-yarder from Michael Kightly away from the far top corner of his goal after the winger cut inside two opposing players to try his luck with aplomb.
Stoke set out to begin a superior second half as they had the first, though their early hustle was stopped cold by the unfortunate injury to Wilson, replaced after lengthy treatment by Andy Wilkinson.
Tony Pulis’s side began to turn the screw in the final 20 minutes but for all their efforts, Mignolet in the Sunderland goal would prove impossible to beat on this day.
Denying Charlie Adam from Geoff Cameron’s good burst forward and cut-back from the byline on 71, Mignolet then worked well with Danny Rose to quell a dangerous Potters breakaway before Fletcher had Sunderland’s best chance of the match blocked by Robert Huth admit suspicisions of handball.
Referee Mark Halsey ruled the clear contact as ball-to-hand, and with five minutes remaining the Mackems again had Mignolet to thank at the other end as he produced a point-blank stop to deny a Huth header from a left-wing free-kick.
A monster eight minutes was added on after the 90 were up thanks mostly to the Wilson injury, but Mignolet continued to pluck a host of Stoke crosses and diagonals out of the air to keep his sheet spotless and help earn the visitors a share of the spoils.
MATCH OF THE MATCH
Simon Mignolet (Sunderland): A composed and crucial shift between the sticks in a game of few chances, nonetheless had to single-handedly keep the Black Cats level on three occasions.
STOKE CITY: Begovic 8; Cameron 7, Shawcross 7, Huth 7, Wilson 6; Walters 5, Whitehead 6, Nzonzi 5, Adam 6, Kightly 7; Crouch 7. Subs: Owen N/A, Etherington 6, Wilkinson 6.
SUNDERLAND: Mignolet 9; Gardner 6, Cuellar 7, O'Shea 7, Rose 6; Cattermole 6, Colback 7; Larsson 6, Johnson 7, McClean 6; Fletcher 7. Subs: Bardsley N/A, Saha N/A, Sessegnon 6.
- Sports & Recreation
- Simon Mignolet
- Marc Wilson
- Steven Fletcher