JOEY BARTON has poked fun at Sunderland after his Fleetwood Town side claimed a 1-1 draw at the Stadium of Light.

The former Newcastle United midfielder has wound up the Black Cats support in the past, and was at it again despite Max Power's stoppage-time strike having cancelled out Barrie McKay's early opener on Wearside.

“I thought we were there,” said Barton. “Six minutes stoppage time usually means six minutes stoppage time, but not today. We’re disappointed, but we dust ourselves down and go again.

“You have to give Sunderland credit – they kept fighting and pushing. The fanbase drive them on, and they got their rewards. They’re trying as hard as we are to win a football match, and sometimes it doesn’t go your way, but it’s interesting for me to see Sunderland fans celebrating in the manner they did after drawing at home to Fleetwood Town.”

Barton’s Newcastle links meant he received a hostile reception, and he was happy to humour the Sunderland support after the final whistle.

“I loved my time with Newcastle,” he said. “I always enjoy the warm reception I get here, when I get off the coach and they say such kind words to me. It really warms the spirit! I appreciated all the fans coming over at the end to congratulate me, it was fantastic. We’re doing a great job with Fleetwood, and it was nice for the Sunderland fans to appreciate that!”

However, Barton also went on to talk about how disappointing he finds it to be taking on a Sunderland side in League One.

"Sunderland paid more for Will Grigg than our entire budget," he said. "I love coming to caludrons of football, and this is certainly a cauldron of football, but it's so sad to see them playing at the level they're playing.

"I'm a mad Newcastle supporter and loved my time on Tyneside, but I loved coming here in the derbies. They were great occasions - mainly because most of the time we won.

"But on the whole they were great occasions because they're proper football fans. I know I have my banter with the Mackems, but I'm a football fan at heart. I was a mad Evertonian as a kid, and I'm as passionate about football as the Sunderland fans are.

"I saw the documentary, which I thought was embarrassing on the football club. I thought it was more about Martin Bain than about Sunderland, which is sad because this is an incredible institution of football.

"I'm made up to come here 18 months into management and test myself. I'm four games unbeaten now against Sunderland and I'm delighted for that, but they shouldn't be in this division. This club should not be in this division.

"It's a massive football club and the North-East is a massive hotbed of football, and it's sad to see they've only got one top-flight team."