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Allardyce rues Sunderland nerves after Stoke draw

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce felt key decisions went against his side before Jermain Defoe's stoppage-time penalty grabbed a 1-1 draw at Stoke City.

Allardyce believes the pressure of the relegation battle hindered Sunderland's play as Stoke took a 50th-minute lead through Marko Arnautovic.

Peter Crouch's challenge on Younes Kaboul went unpunished in the build-up to the opener – much to the Sunderland boss' frustration, and his team slide back into the drop zone due to Newcastle United's 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

"I was happy to accept a point that is a point gained rather than two points lost. The performance wasn't our best and we accept that," Allardyce told a post-match news conference.

"We looked more nervous than we have in the past four or five games. Maybe the lads were feeling the pressure and that caused us to give far too many easy balls away.

"But it was a very good ball from Yann M'Vila and a super turn from Jermain Defoe. I don't think anyone could complain about the penalty."

Contrary to Allardyce's thoughts, Stoke boss Mark Hughes felt the penalty was "soft", but the visiting manager insisted his side were the more hard done by at the hands of the officials.

"My problem was [Defoe's goal] could well have been the winner for us because I don't think Stoke's goal should have stood," he added.

"I think Peter Crouch has popped both hands on Younes Kaboul's shoulders and that is a blatant foul, so they shouldn't have got that goal.

"And also, I think the referee and his assistant missed a penalty from Cameron's handball in the box in the 30th minute. He stuck his hand way above his head and flicked the ball. Luckily for him and unluckily for us he got away with it.

"I'm pleased the referee was brave enough to give the penalty in the last minute and we're still fighting, with three games to go, to stay in this league."