CHRIS COLEMAN was left frustrated after Sunderland failed to make it two wins in a row at the Stadium of Light – meaning his players dropped back into the bottom three.

Birmingham City, the Championship’s bottom club, left Wearside with a point and took the lead in the 16th minute when Sam Gallagher scored.

Sunderland equalised through Lewis Grabban five minutes later when Cotterill thought there was a foul committed on his midfielder Cheikh Ndoye that went unpunished.

That was how it stayed, even though with 23 minutes remaining Gallagher was sent off, just 11 minutes after his initial caution. Gallagher was booked initially for going down too easily after knocking the ball past goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter, and then his second was for a strong challenge on James Vaughan.

Coleman had hoped his players would continue on a winning note after finally ending a 21-match run without a home win seven days earlier. Instead his players could have done better – and he fears Darron Gibson could miss the trip to Sheffield United on Boxing Day.

He said: “I’m disappointed. An opportunity missed. Overall performance … we were a little nervous, lacked a bit of confidence. I was pleased at 1-0 down to show conviction, we didn’t fold. We showed adversity and courage, but expected us to go and win it.

“In key moments we lost conviction and courage too after that. In all our performances since I have been here this is the one we looked nervous. We were tentative. I asked them to block out everything and concentrate on themselves. We dropped two points at home.

“It could have been worse, it could have been ‘here we go again’ after conceding the first. It’s gone now. Now Darron Gibson has a groin problem, it’s been a tough week and with the games coming up we couldn’t risk him anymore than we did.

“He is a big player because he is a good passer. I hope Darron is OK. We will see how he settles down. No Lee Cattermole, no Paddy McNair, this is Didier Ndong’s second game back. He couldn’t play any longer than he did.

“Holding players are scarce at the minute, hence why Marc Wilson went in there in the end. These games come thick and fast. There are two after it then as well.”

Birmingham boss was more satisfied but disappointed not to get the help he wanted from referee Martin Atkinson.

He said: said: “Three points we deserved today. I think it was a foul on Cheikh Ndoye for Sunderland’s goal. Sam Gallagher’s two bookings are the softest you will see in your life.

“You can see if it was one of them. But Sam is an honest boy. He hasn’t dived. When he gets that touch, he has to go round him. What happens if he goes steaming into the keeper? It was harsh.

“If it was at St Andrews he doesn’t get booked for that. For the second one it isn’t a foul, no way. If it wasn’t a foul for Ndoye for Sunderland goal then it wasn’t a yellow card for Sam Gallagher.

“We could have been two goals to the good at half-time. We carved some great chances. It’s been a tough old start to the season, but we need to work really hard just to get some credit for the rub of the green.

“Sam almost had three goals in two games, should have had another today. We have had enough set-backs I am sure we can deal with a few more.”