Phil Parkinson was relieved that Chris Maguire came up with an equaliser to spare Sunderland from an opening-day defeat to Bristol Rovers at the Stadium of Light.
But the Black Cats boss says his side needs to be better in the final third to make sure they get the victories they deserve this season.
Sunderland dominated possession over the course of the 90 minutes but struggled to level things up after Luke Leahy struck a third-minute penalty for Rovers.
In the end, Maguire levelled with eight minutes remaining to earn a point, which could have been three had Max Power’s late efforts found the net instead of a save and a clearance off the line.
Parkinson was also frustrated to have lost George Dobson for a straight red card after his strong tackle on Jayden Mitchell-Lawson deep into stoppage time.
“It was a terrible start for us, couldn’t have been any worse against a team that came to time waste,” said Parkinson.
“But the start was terrible, we became frantic after that. We got into our rhythm and started playing after that first 15 minutes. We got better as the game wore on. We completely dominated the game in the second half and should have won comfortably in the end.
“We got the goal but also had several other chances. There was some good goalkeeping, some poor finishing and the save from Max’s shot has kept them in the game.
“I don’t think we could have done much more in the second half in terms of the way we played. The final bit, the final moment of quality, needs to be better. Because of the amount of dominance we had we should have been out of sight.
“George won the ball. At the time I thought it was going to be a yellow. The kind of manner of the challenge can be interpreted as a red sometimes. It’s frustrating for George but it gives someone else the opportunity.”
Bristol Rovers boss Ben Garner was satisfied with the outcome, with his side leaving Wearside with a point on day one.
But Garner was annoyed how Bailey Wright, who had been cautioned in the first half for a foul on Brandon Hanlan, did not receive a second yellow for another foul on the striker after the restart.
He said: “Defensively we were good against a strong Sunderland side. We have shown we have the character and there were some strong individual performances out there for us.
“We made a good start but the second half we didn’t get going, even though we showed the fight to come away with a point. We got ahead, had four or five opportunities on the turnover and didn’t quite come to pass.
“The turning point in the second half, Bailey Wright brought down Hanlan when he was already on a yellow. The referee had a card in his hand. And for whatever reason he puts it back away without showing it.”