No one seriously expected to go to Villa Park on the back of a mini-run pursued exclusively at home and romp to victory.
Equally, no one a couple of weeks ago would have expected anything more than for us to come away with tails between legs, well beaten whatever the actual margin.
The measure of Sunderland’s progress in such a short time, after such a long malaise, is that we not only emerged with a deserved draw; we also succeeded in worrying Villa, top four aspirants, leading them for a while and defending when necessary in reasonable comfort. And along the way, we had our own chance or two to regain the lead.
Even after our decent home run of eight points from four games, I was resigned to coming down to earth with a nasty bump, to lose tonight – honourably, maybe – and again on Sunday at Anfield.
We may still be beaten by Liverpool. That would be the logical outcome. But we are now playing with sufficient confidence and composure to make it at least possible that we can tease out another good result.
One-one at Villa Park. A highly creditable display brings the shared spoils it merited. And let us not overlook a sublime finish by Fraizer Campbell – pictured from his Facebook site in the wrong strip- for the goal that gave us hope, unfulfilled as it was to be, of a fabulous victory.