Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has admitted Lee Cattermole was fortunate to escape a red card, after he handled Kenwyne Jones' header on the line in Saturday's 2-0 win over Stoke City.
The former Black Cats forward's nodded effort was set for the back of the net until Cattermole's intervention, but referee Martin Atkinson missed the incident at the Stadium of Light.
Asamoah Gyan's brace secured the victory for the hosts, but Bruce has conceded his team were let off the hook.
Bruce also praised his players for their spirit after their 5-1 humbling at north east rivals Newcastle United last weekend.
"I think it clips the bar, that takes it away from Cattermole, there is no disputing it is handball," he said.
"We got away with one, but we might have won 2-1 anyway, they at the time were shouting for a goal and I think the referee got that right, but there is no hiding it was handball.
"We have plenty of occasions this year where it hasn't gone for us. Whether it is pivotal who knows, after the week we have had, we are due a bit of luck."
"It has been a tough week, you have all been in the North East long enough, I am pleased with all the players, the young players they will all learn from it and they were determined to try and make amends and we have repaired some damage, thankfully it showed some bottle after a really difficult week.
"The players have worked extremely hard all week."