O’Neill happy with early gains

Referee Howard Webb’s controversial decision to award Everton a

51st-minute penalty, which was converted by Leighton Baines,

ultimately denied the Black Cats just their fifth victory at the

Stadium of Light in 2011. However, after wins over Blackburn and

QPR either side of a narrow defeat at high-flying Tottenham, the

59-year-old is satisfied with the early return. He said: “When we

were doing the press conference a few days before the Queens Park

Rangers game, I would have certainly taken four points from the two

games coming up. “Maybe under the circumstances, you start to ask

for a few more when they are not there, but we weren’t beaten, I

suppose, in the end.” Webb proved the central character in a tight

encounter when he pointed to the spot after Osman had gone to

ground, although replays showed that neither Wes Brown nor Lee

Cattermole had touched him and that he had, in fact, kicked the

ground. However, O’Neill was quick to absolve the Everton

midfielder of any blame. He said: “When one misses the ball

completely, then you are going to go down quite awkwardly, so I

wouldn’t be attaching any blame to a player in any aspect. “He had

an air-swipe, missed it and of course, he is going to be

off-balance and went down. “He has made a positive attempt – I

don’t think he has tried at all to con anybody. I just think the

referee has got to try to see that from that distance. “He hasn’t

done, so it’s just disappointing, but it’s gone.”