HE might have been frustrated at his Sunderland’s side failure to hold on to a winning position in each of their last two matches, but Phil Parkinson says last night’s 1-1 draw at Fleetwood Town provided further evidence of the way in which the salary cap has levelled things up League One.

For the second time in six days, the Black Cats claimed the lead on their travels, only to be pegged back and deprived of two points.

Charlie Wyke’s header opened the scoring at Fleetwood’s Highbury Stadium, but Sunderland’s defenders failed to clear their lines with 17 minutes left, enabling Callum Connolly to sweep home.

The Black Cats remain outside the play-off places even though they are unbeaten on their travels this season, with Parkinson claiming their last two draws highlight just how tight the league has become since the salary-cap rules were introduced this summer.

“It is frustrating, but I can only say that games are going to be tight,” said the Sunderland boss. “I know people think because of the stature of our club that we should be going three, four up all the time, but the salary cap has levelled the playing field.

“It has - and I still don’t think in football there’s enough understanding of that. We should have had the licence to go and get more players and improve areas, but that was what happened. Because of coronavirus, that went under the radar.

“Games are going to be tight, that’s the way it’s going to be. Other teams have equal ability to spend what we’ve been able to spend. We’ve got to fight tooth and nail for every point.”

Parkinson was pleased with his players’ efforts last night, even if he was disappointed at their failure to see things through.

“When you take the lead, you expect to win. It was just that very small period where we didn’t clear our lines properly and got punished for that,” he said.