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It's a bore draw on Wearside as Graham fluffs his big chance
Final Score: Sunderland 0 Swansea City 0
IF Danny Graham ends up signing for Sunderland this week, he should be thankful he never found the net last night.
After watching his Swansea City team-mates struggle to score, the Gateshead-born striker was then handed the unenviable task of trying to hit the winner against the team he could move to in the next 48 hours.
The self-confessed boyhood Newcastle United fan was left in no doubt about what many of Sunderland's supporters think of his possible arrival. The ripples of applause from some fans was silenced by the sound of boos and derogatory chants from others.
If Graham - who handed his Swans' shirt to a young Sunderland fan after the final whistle - does complete a £5.5m switch from the Liberty Stadium before tomorrow night's 11pm deadline then he has work to do to win over his critics on Wearside.
His cameo performance was largely routine. Nothing spectacular and nothing calamitous, even if Titus Bramble blocked a shot from him in the dying seconds.
Had he actually ended the night a match-winner the 27-year-old could have been forgiven for deciding against a return to the North-East.
Graham provided the sideshow on a pretty uneventful night of Premier League football.
The only other real talking point was if referee Andre Marriner was right to wave away early penalty appeals when John O'Shea connected with Dutchman Itay Shechter in the penalty area - and he was probably in the wrong.
Both teams struggled to create chances and Sunderland missed out on the victory that would have lifted them in to the Premier League's top ten.
Graham's emergence from the tunnel was very understated. Just a smile and a hand-shake for Sunderland's kit-man, who was around at the Riverside during his Middlesbrough's days.
Whether he would be called upon during the 90 minutes was very much the topic on the lips of the supporters but Sunderland had hoped to be in control by then anyway. That never looked like being the case.
Sunderland, like the crowd, started slowly during a very low key opening. Then suddenly Swansea started to play with expression that has become their trademark, particularly under Michael Laudrup this season.
During a ten-minute spell Michu's influence behind the striker, Shechter, and the pace and wing work from Nathan Dyer and Pablo Hernandez highlighted the dangers to watch from a home perspective.
Swansea could have been ahead at that time too only for Michu's shot, after a terrific counter attack, to be deflected for a corner and then goalkeeper Simon Mignolet did well to turn Chico Flores' low shot behind his near post.
The need for Sunderland to close down their opponents quicker was prominent and whenever a red and white shirt had the ball those in white showed exactly what tempo was required.
While Swansea were hardly at their best in front of goal, there was also a difference in ball retention. Far too often Sunderland, chiefly new signing Alfred N'Diaye in the first half, gave possession away in the attacking third.
There were options all around every time Swansea were in possession.
The plus side from Sunderland's viewpoint was that almost every time they reached the penalty area, the home defence stood strong.
Sunderland had to rely on occasional breaks and when they did have one it tended to be about the individual rather than making the best of the space. When the half-time whistle went they only had two free-kicks to show for a pretty uninspiring opening 45 minutes.
The first was a Seb Larsson strike from near the corner flag that had to be saved at the near post by Gerhard Tremmel; the second a Craig Gardner power drive which reached high in the North Stand.
Sunderland could not afford a second half display like the first and in slightly tinkering - by asking Larsson to revert to his preferred wide right role - they had a degree of success.
Sunderland had greater vibrancy about them. Stephane Sessegnon, who had been ineffective on the flanks, caused problems behind lone striker Steven Fletcher. Still, though, neither goalkeeper was seriously asked a question.
And finally Graham got the call 16 minutes from time. In replacing Leon Britton he was greeted to a chorus of boos, as well as a few claps from home fans.
By and large, though, it was not the welcome he would have liked from the fans he could potentially play in front of every week.
He could not find the night's elusive goal, however, although Swansea still should have converted the game's best chance in the closing stages.
When Michu and Dyer combined to get in behind the Sunderland defence, the Spaniard's roll-back for his team-mate was perfectly weighted only for Dyer to push wide from seven yards.
There was still time for Titus Bramble to throw himself across to block Graham's late strike.
Had that gone in the former Boro striker would be better off staying in South Wales.
Bookings: Tiendalli (21, foul); Britton (57, foul)
Referee: Andre Marriner (Walsall) 5
Attendance: 35, 628
SUNDERLAND (4-1-4-1): Mignolet 6; Gardner 6, O'SHEA 7, Bramble 6, Colback 6; N'Diaye 5 (McClean 65, 5); Sessegnon 7, Vaughan 6, Larsson 5, Johnson 6 (Wickham 84); Fletcher 5. Subs (not used): Westwood (gk), Bardsley, Kilgallon, Mangane, Elmohamady.
SWANSEA CITY (4-2-3-1): Tremmel 6; Tiendalli 6, FLORES 8, Williams 7, Davies 7; Britton 6 (Graham 74), de Guzman 6; Dyer 7, Michu 7, Hernandez 6 (Lamah 65, 5); Schechter 5 (Ki 61, 5). Subs (not used): Cornell (gk), Bartley, Routledge, Rangel.
MAN OF THE MATCH
CHICO Flores - the Spanish defender was effective at the back, good on the ball and almost hit the winner.
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