Max Power's late equaliser was not enough to end a run of five games without a win for Sunderland, as The Black Cats drew 1-1 with Burton Albion at the Stadium of Light.
In a game where chances were at a premium, The Brewers took the lead midway through the second half when Charles Vernam pounced on a goalkeeping blunder from Remi Matthews.
Power headed home from a Luke O'Nien cross with just five minutes to go to avoid defeat, but this is certainly not a result that will be treated with content by the Wearside faithful.
After manager Phil Parkinson was relieved of his duties at the weekend after a poor run of results, it was up to first-team coach Andrew Taylor to take charge of The Black Cats this evening while the club continue to search for a new boss.
Story of the game
The first real chance of the game fell to Sunderland just five minutes into the game when Luke O'Nien played a ball through to Conor McLaughlin - who managed to get a shot off - but the effort was saved comfortably by Kieran O'Hara.
O'Nien was a thorn in the side of Burton early in the game, this time he got free down the right-hand side and played the ball towards Elliot Embleton in the middle of the six-yard box, but veteran defender Michael Bostwick stopped it in his tracks and managed to clear the ball.
Sunderland kept the pressure on, this time Grant Leadbitter knocked the ball into the box onto the head of McLaughlin, but the effort went narrowly past the post.
Black Cats striker Charlie Wyke was forced off with an injury just 25 minutes into the game, with Danny Graham on to replace him.
Burton were second best in a cagey first half, but were a threat on the counter-attack and if it was not for Bailey Wright heading away dangerous-looking Stephen Quinn cross, The Brewers may have broken the deadlock.
Just a few minutes later, Bostwick registered Burton's first shot on target of the game, a header from a corner which was straight at Remi Matthews in the Sunderland net.
The final real chance of the half fell to the hosts when Josh Scowen's cross almost found its way to Graham for a tap-in, but O'Hara managed to kick the ball away from danger.
A poor first half brought an exciting second half
Sunderland started the second half like they did the first, on top, and should have taken the lead when Denver Hume's low cross found Graham - who did not connect with the ball cleanly - it then struck Embleton on the way through, but O'Hara was able to gather the ball into his chest.
Sunderland kept the pressure on The Brewers when Power jumped over Quinn's sliding tackle and found Embleton with a cross, but the youngster did not get a good connection with headed effort and it wass caught comfortably by the Burton keeper.
Despite Sunderland looking the more threatening of the two, it was Burton have snatched the lead and they have Sunderland goalkeeper Matthews to thank for it.
Joe Powell's low-driven 25-yard strike causeed Matthews to fumble the ball out of his clutches directly into the path of Charles Vernam, who made no mistake from point-blank range.
Chasing an equaliser, Sunderland continued to pressure the Burton goal - this time a ball from a corner fell out to Scowen, who chested it down and struck from just outside of the box, but the shot goes well wide of O'Hara's goal.
Burton almost caught Sunderland on the counter-attack when Ryan Edwards played in Lucas Akins, but Sunderland were able to get bodies behind the shot and block it away from danger.
The beginning of a manic final ten minutes commenced when second half substitute Will Grigg first hit the post from a O'Nien cross, then hit the ball narrowly wide of the goal just a few moments later.
With The Black Cats still flabbergasted that they had not equalised through Grigg - Danny Graham then had two massive chances of his own that went begging. The first saved was by O'Hara, then the following rebound went inches past the post.
But just a few minutes later, they had their equaliser when O'Nien's cross was met beautifully by Power who guided his header past O'Hara into the bottom-right corner.
Sunderland huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser, with Leadbitter and Scowen having late long-range efforts going wide of the target - but the failure to win means Sunderland remain outside of the League One play-off places.
The potential of Sunderland's squad must be utilised
Tonight was more of the same for Sunderland: poor defensively and sloppy offensively.
Despite being on top for the majority of the game, The Black Cats found themselves once again trailing a game.
Chance, after chance went begging, but finally on 85 minutes, they had their equaliser through Max Power, who had not just been their best player tonight, but their leader on the pitch.
When Power pulled Sunderland out of another embarrassing defeat, he rallied his troops back to their own half, no time for celebrating, he wanted the winner.
Of course Power and his team did not run out with all three points this evening, but that attitude alone clearly acknowledges that these Sunderland players know they should be beating a side that currently occupy one of the relegation places in League One.
Whoever does end up in the hot-seat at this football club must realise the potential of his squad, and utilise it in a style of play that is forward-thinking.
A brilliant result for the Brewers
Burton Albion this evening defended deep, played on the counter and snatched a goal - the clear blueprint to getting a result at the Stadium of Light.
Jake Buxton's men worked hard off-the-ball, put their bodies on the line and ultimately got what they deserved - a well earned point.
They defended in numbers and were able to nullify the forward pair of Embleton and Graham with relative ease, which will have been refreshing to see for the Burton supporters who have seen their side concede almost on average two goals a league game.
Their will be a slight bit of disappointment in the The Brewers camp that they did not hold on for the win - but taking four points from a possible six against two promotion-pushing sides in Charlton and Sunderland may just be the turning point in their quest to avoid relegation to League Two.
Sunderland: Matthews; O'Nien, McLaughlin, Wright, Flanagan, Hume; Scowen, Power, Leadbitter; Wyke, Embleton. (5-3-2)
Burton Albion: O'Hara; Brayford, Bostwick, Quinn, Daniel; Powell, Edwards; Vernam, Hughes, Gilligan; Akins. (4-2-3-1)