Sunderland can take heart from their performance - despite dropping points, says Max Power
Sunderland's season started with a draw against Bristol Rovers but skipper Max Power saw positive signsby James Hunter
Skipper Max Power could not hide his disappointent as Sunderland dropped two points at home to Bristol Rovers - but he insists the performance gave cause for optimism.
The Black Cats trailed to Luke Leahy's third minute penalty after goalkeeper Lee Burge had hauled down Jayden Mitchell-Lawson, but after dominating the second half they eventually levelled through Chris Maguire seven minutes from time.
And Power twice came within a whisker of grabbing a winner, first seeing a long-range effort turned onto the inside of the post by goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola and a couple of minutes later seeing a shot cleared off the line by Mark Little.
It meant Sunderland had to settle for the draw and, while Power admits Sunderland have to be more ruthless in front of goal, he says there were still encouraging signs.
"There were plenty of positives to take, but ultimately, we've had an awful start to the game, there's no hiding away from that," he said.
"I think it knocked us for the first 15 minutes of the game. It was very hectic.
"But after the initial 15 or 20 minutes we settled into the game and started getting the ball down and passing it about.
"On another day, we've created more than enough chances, especially in the second half, to have won the game.
"The keeper has pulled off a good save from me, and he also saved a good header from Dobbo [George Dobson] from point-blank range.
"There were a lot of nearly moments.
"I'm not going to say I'm happy with a point, we came to win the game, and it's disappointing the manner we conceded.
"It gives the other team that opportunity to slow the game down and make it difficult.
"We all wanted to win and are disappointed we didn't, but we kept going and looked fit."
"We turned up there today and it would have been a nice feeling if we could have got off to a winning start.
"You're up and running and the confidence flows through the camp.
"But take away that first 15 minutes, and there's a lot to be encouraged by."
Sunderland failed to convert chances in their Carabao Cup tie against Hull City the previous weekend, the game ended goalless and they then lost on penalties.
Then in midweek they thrashed Aston Villa U21s 8-1 in the EFL Trophy.
But on Saturday their cutting edge was missing again, as they failed to convert their dominance into goals and had to settle for a point against Rovers.
Power said: "In the three competitive games we've had, we're looking strong.
"Through pre-season and up to now, we've not lost and that's a good habit to have.
"We just now need to fine tune those chances in the final third and stop those little mistakes that have given Bristol the opportunity to score.
"You could tell after 50 minutes their lads were dead on their feet and holding on. There was only one team that looked like they were going to win the game.
"We're creating chances, which is a good sign, but a bit like the Hull game, we need to have that clinical edge.
"We found that on Tuesday against Aston Villa U21s but it wasn't quite there on Saturday.
"The performance against Hull was really good. We created enough chances to have won that game, and Tuesday night there were goals galore.
"Then on Saturday. I just think it's a really sloppy start.
"We like to get the ball forward early, but have over-hit that ball long.
"It's fine margins, but that first 90 seconds has probably cost us winning the game.
"I'm positive. I saw enough on Saturday.
"It would be a worry if we weren't creating chances, but I don't want to be sitting here a month down the line and we're still saying we played well but we've not quite done enough.
"The first game is out of the way now, and we have a free week to work really hard on the training ground before we go to Oxford next weekend.
"It comes round quick.
"We've had six months, a long period off, and I still feel as if we've got a few gears to go up."
Sunderland had George Dobson sent off deep into injury-time for a lunging challenge on Jayden Mitchell-Lawson and, unless the club decides to appeal, he is facing a three-match ban.
Either Josh Scowen and Grant Leadbitter could replace him at Oxford, with Power adding: "The competition for places is really strong, it's probably one of the strongest I've seen it for a long time.
"You saw people come into the side on Tuesday and put in good performances.
"The gaffer said he had some tough decisions to make, and again, lads have come on and affected the game.
"No one individual will ever see us over the line, it's going to be a case of a whole squad. Even more this season with a crammed schedule."