You know how bad the football is when fans who had got up at the crack of dawn to make the long journey to East Anglia choose to go to the pub at half time rather than endure another 45 minutes.

The appearance among the Ipswich support of someone wearing a Newcastle shirt during the break did not help the mood, which was pretty foul after a totally unacceptable first half.

Those Sunderland supporters who stayed were rewarded with a more stable second half showing but it was still below par and took a mistake from Ipswich skipper Luke Chambers to gift the persistent Marc McNulty the ball, and he in turn set up Lynden Gooch to equalize after Luke Garbutt had given dominant Ipswich a first half lead.

One bright note for the Black Cats was the way midfielder George Dobson is settling into the side after his move from Walsall and his frank post-match appraisal underlined his battling qualities.

The 21-year-old knows Sunderland cannot afford to continue conceding the first goal, make basic mistakes, draw too many matches and will not be given time to learn in this unforgiving climate.

“Of course there's no time to learn,” said the former Arsenal and West Ham youngster. “It's all about winning games. So far we've had two games and drawn both. That's not acceptable.

“We've got to make sure that come next Saturday we're sat on five points.”

“We got to stop conceding the first goal. It was from a basic throw-in and they've squeezed it in from nearly the byline.

“We've got to get in front of games then keep pushing, keep pressing. We've got to look back on that first half and see what went so wrong but also look at the second half and take the positives from that and take it into Tuesday and Saturday.”

A change in tactics and personnel saw things improve after the break but Dobson insisted Sunderland should not be relying on half-time rollickings.

He said: “The gaffer came in and said what he needed to say. We all knew the first half wasn't good enough.

“A few words were said but nothing ridiculous. We knew the reaction had to be there and it was.

“We've just got to make sure we don't need to be having these chats at half-time, we should be saying we're going to keep up what we're doing into the second half.

“We've really got to stamp that into our game.’’

Ipswich manager Paul Lambert described his side’s play as ‘rock n roll football’, using the same analogy Sunderland’s play was akin to a disinterested smooch, after some uncoordinated dad dancing.

Jack Ross dropped striker Will Grigg to the bench and brought in Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady, who skippered the side. He chose to go with five at the back to start with. Despite the defensive numbers his team could not keep that much needed clean sheet.

Ipswich pressed from the start with their fluid midfield supporting their front two and pouring through the gaps, forcing Ross to change tactics and go with a flat back four after half an hour, and that marked an improvement, especially after the break.

Right back Conor McLaughlin found himself under pressure from Kayden Jackson and Sunderland conceded an early corner, which Jon McLaughlin gathered comfortably but it set the tone.

It could have been worse as Sunderland survived a penalty appeal after just five minutes as Kayden Jackson went down in the box under pressure from Tom Flanagan and the home support understandably screamed for a spot kick and the visitors held their collective breath.

However, referee Neil Hair controversially pointed in the Black Cats’ favour and booked Jackson for simulation.

Flanagan was not so fortunate on the quarter hour when Garbutt came in off his left wing position to burst through the middle and take the ball away from the defender. Despite then being forced a little wide by McLaughlin the loan winger from Everton hit a low shot from a tight angle through McLaughlin’s legs.

The 1,800 travelling Sunderland support had to wait until the 37th minute before their side had an attempt on gal but Lynden Gooch’s 20-yard effort sailed well wide.

Sunderland were fortunate to be just the one goal behind by the break after a pretty flaccid performance. Ross brought Chris Maguire on in place of Denver Hume at the break in an attempt to get on the front foot.

Marc McNulty got behind the Ipswich back line and was close to getting his head on a McGeady cross, with his teammates unsuccessfully claiming he had been held back.

The tails were up though and McNuly forced a schoolboy mistake from Chambers before teeing up Gooch, whose shot evaded Myles Kenlock on the line to level.

Ultimately, a point at Portman Road is no bad thing, but much needs to improve – and quickly.