The club’s goal drought ended after 701 tortuous minutes when Wahbi Khazri’s corner caught the win and flew in. And they snatched a late point when Fabio Borini came off the bench to equalise.
And with both Hull and Swansea losing, Sunderland ended the day closer to Premier League survival than they had started it. But those facts conceal more brutal truths, with relegation moving ever closer and the uneasy truce between Moyes and club’s long-suffering fans coming to an end.
Just as worrying, Borini’s brazen celebration in front of his manager and his post-match interview which talked of discord and a lack of unity in the dressing room suggests wider issues than just bad results.
With games running out, this was a match Sunderland had to win but they were always chasing with Andre Ayew and James Collins scoring at the start of each half.
While Collins’ glancing header within a minute of the restart was greeted with grim resignation by a crowd barely three quarters the official attendance of 40,168, Ayew’s fifth-minute opener had brought the first audible chants against Moyes
They came from a pocket of fans rather than a mass but when he walked towards his technical area, dissent grew and there were ironic songs directed at him when Khazri found the net.
No manager who wins just five games out of 33 can be popular and Lee Cattermole admits the club is not a happy one right now.
“I don’t think the crowd turned against the manager – not the way I’ve seen other managers treated,” he said. “Which fans are happy? Which players and managers here are happy? No one is happy at the minute because of the position we’re in.
“But the way we performed shows how hard we’re trying. We could easily have lost 2-1 but gained a point on those teams around us.
“That’s as positive as I’ve felt after a game for a long time and you’ll definitely see us look to build on that.”
West Ham defender Jose Fonte too believes the draw can provide the platform for a top ten finish even though keeper Darren Randolph’s late blunder meant the result felt more like a defeat.
“We’re two unbeaten now but I’m not going to lie, everyone is disappointed,” he said. “We’ll take the positives and if we win our next game we’re in a great position to achieve a top half finish and end the season on a high.”