Lee Johnson felt Sunderland let promotion rivals Blackpool off the hook after Luke Garbutt’s goal dented the Black Cats’ top-two hopes in a 1-0 defeat.
Garbutt fired home via a deflection in the second half, moments after Aiden McGeady had struck the post for the visitors at Bloomfield Road.
Grant Leadbitter and Luke O’Nien also saw chances go begging as Sunderland’s automatic promotion ambitions took a hit having gone four Sky Bet League One games without a win.
“We let them off the hook a couple of times,” said Johnson. “I think when you’re not winning regularly like we were about eight days ago, it seems like those little things just don’t go for you.
“We gave the ball away where we could have hooked it on, and they’ve ended up getting a deflection and scoring the goal.
“To be fair, after that it was all us. There wasn’t quite enough goalmouth action from us.
“You’ve got to give them credit about the way they defended, but certainly the impetus was from us.
“Today it was fine margins, without a doubt. In the previous games we only have ourselves to blame because we switched off from set plays.
“If you play that game 100 times we certainly get a draw, if not win, in most of them.”
Jerry Yates had a shot comfortably saved by Lee Burge on 14 minutes, before Leadbitter was denied by Chris Maxwell two minutes later.
Everton loanee Ellis Simms wasted a good chance for the hosts when he blazed over from 12 yards on 25 minutes, while McGeady struck the post after the break.
It was a pivotal moment as Garbutt gave the Seasiders the lead a minute later with the aid of a deflection.
O’Nien was denied by the woodwork on 72 minutes as Blackpool held on, solidifying their play-off place and keeping a clean sheet they were desperate for.
“It’s only three points, but it’s a big three points, particularly with the manner we got them,” said Blackpool head coach Neil Critchley. “I thought it was two good teams on the pitch.
“Psychologically, this is big for us though to keep a clean sheet, because there’s been a few games recently; Plymouth at home, Wimbledon at home, where we’ve conceded near the end of the game.
“Over the course of a 46-game league season you have to find different ways of winning, to scrap and battle it out and I thought our players did that extremely well.
“Considering the quality of players they’ve got in the attacking line, our back four were superb. I don’t remember Chris Maxwell having too much to do in the first half.
“We had the best chance in the first half, they hit the post in the second and after we’ve scored we had to withstand quite a bit of pressure.”