SUNDERLAND remain rooted to the foot of the Championship table as Shaun Hutchinson’s scrambled second-half equaliser deprived them of two potentially priceless points at Millwall.

The Black Cats claimed a first-half advantage through Bryan Oviedo’s superb long-range strike, and withstood a second-half barrage as Millwall poured forward in search of a goal.

However, their resistance was broken with 22 minutes left, with Hutchinson stabbing home from a corner despite Lee Cattermole’s best efforts to hack the ball clear from the line.

The result means the Black Cats remain at the foot of the table, and are now four points adrift of 21st-placed Barnsley, having played a game more than the Tykes.

Sunderland boss Chris Coleman rang the changes before kick-off, making six alterations from the side that drew with Middlesbrough seven days earlier.

The most notable came in goal, with Jason Steele returning in place of January signing Lee Camp, who was dropped to the bench. Ovie Ejaria, Aiden McGeady and Callum McManaman were all restored to the midfield, while Ashley Fletcher started up front after being forced to sit out last weekend’s game with his parent club.

The Black Cats went into the game five points adrift of safety at the foot of the table, but while Millwall had won their previous three games on the spin, it was the visitors who were the more composed side for much of the opening 45 minutes.

Millwall’s sole tactic was to throw long balls towards their strike pairing of Lee Gregory and Steve Morison, but while the duo won the occasional header, Tyias Browning and John O’Shea were generally on hand to snuff out any danger.

That said, however, Millwall might well feel they should have claimed a sixth-minute lead. Jake Cooper found himself completely unmarked from a corner, but Lee Cattermole was able to hack away the defender’s goal-bound header from a position on the goalline.

The next opportunity came at the other end of the field, and while Ashley Fletcher was unable to make any connection with Adam Matthews’ dangerous driven cross, the fact the Black Cats were getting on the front foot was nevertheless positive.

Callum McManaman fired over when a corner was cleared into his direction midway through the first half, but the next time Sunderland tried their luck from distance four minutes later, the deadlock was broken.

Oviedo played a neat one-two with McGeady in a pre-rehearsed short corner routine, and drifted infield towards the corner of the area. There appeared to be little danger when he took aim with his left foot, but he arced a sensational strike that flew past Millwall goalkeeper Jordan Archer and found the top right-hand corner.

It was Oviedo’s second goal of the season, and arguably the best scored by a Sunderland player in the whole of the campaign.

Millwall’s players appeared shell-shocked by the concession, although Steele was forced to produce a decent save as he parried Shaun Williams’ low strike shortly before the break. Morison headed wide after Ben Marshall crossed from the right, but Sunderland deserved to make it to the interval with their advantage intact.

Millwall began the second half with an increased sense of purpose, and Steele got down to claim Lee Gregory’s scuffed shot after the Black Cats defence struggled to clear a free-kick.

The visitors survived a penalty claim when Morison went down under a challenge from Ovie Ejaria, and Steele was called into action again shortly after, tipping Gregory’s looping header over the crossbar.

With the pressure on their penalty area becoming increasingly relentless, Sunderland desperately needed an ‘out ball’, and Coleman introduced Joel Asoro for McManaman shortly after the hour mark.

However, within five minutes of the change, Millwall’s pressure finally told as they claimed an equaliser.

Steele did well to keep out Morison’s back-post volley, but the subsequent corner resulted in a penalty-area scramble that hauled the Lions level.

Sunderland’s defenders failed to clear Marshall’s delivery, and while Cattermole tried to clear Shaun Hutchinson’s stabbed effort, referee Andy Davies ruled that the ball had crossed the line.

Millwall (4-4-2): Archer; Romeo, Hutchinson, Cooper, Meredith; Wallace (Cahill 87), Williams, Saville, Marshall (Onyedinma 81); Gregory, Morison.

Subs (not used): Martin (gk), McLaughlin, Tunnicliffe, Elliott, Shackell.

Sunderland (3-4-2-1): Steele; Browning, O’Shea, Kone; Matthews, Cattermole, Ejaria, Oviedo; McGeady (Honeyman 77), McManaman (Asoro 63); Fletcher.

Subs (not used): Camp (gk), Jones, Williams, Robson, Maja.