Sunderland edge out 10-man Stoke
McClean's goal enough for victory at the Britannia Stadium
By William Esler. Last Updated: February 4, 2012 6:42pm
James McClean: Celebrates scoring the games only goal
James McClean's second Premier League goal of the season was the difference as Sunderland beat Stoke 1-0 in difficult conditions at the Britannia Stadium.
The big talking point from the game though will be the sending off of Robert Huth on the stroke of half-time for what did not appear to be a tackle that warranted such punishment.
Stoke have now lost three in a row, whilst Sunderland's revival under Martin O'Neill continues as they have now won five of their last six games.
O'Neill's side, who had been hovering just above the relegation zone when he was appointed in December, remain eighth in the table while Stoke have slipped to 12th.
Potters boss Tony Pulis made three changes to his first XI, forward Cameron Jerome and midfielders Glenn Whelan and Rory Delap replacing Kenwyne Jones, Wilson Palacios - who, like the ill Matthew Etherington, did not feature in the squad at all - and Dean Whitehead.
There was only one adjustment for the visitors, with David Meyler promoted to the starting line-up and Fraizer Campbell dropping to the bench, while transfer deadline day loan signings Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos were also among the substitutes.
The snow that had been falling in the build-up to the game - which was being cleared off the pitch right up until kick-off - continued to come down as the action got under way and it took a while for either side to really warm up.
Stoke enjoyed the lion's share of possession early on and, after Jerome was beaten to Peter Crouch's flick-on by Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, the Potters won a corner that led to Marc Wilson trying his luck from outside the box, firing in a low effort which was blocked.
Mignolet then claimed a useful-looking cross into the area from Whelan, but there was little being fashioned in the way of genuine attempts on goal.
Stephane Sessegnon started to show some endeavour for the visitors, seeing one shot deflect away from danger and on the half-hour mark, drilling another narrowly wide.
It was Sunderland's best spell yet, but with conditions getting worse, it was difficult to build any momentum.
Jerome, who had taken a knock, came off for Ricardo Fuller before Jon Walters brought a save out of Mignolet with a drilled shot.
The first half then ended on a sour note for Stoke as Huth was dismissed for a sliding challenge on Meyler.
Pulis, incensed by referee Martin Atkinson's decision, reacted by substituting Jermaine Pennant for Jonathan Woodgate.
Sunderland went close shortly after the interval as Sessegnon headed McClean's cross just over the bar.
At the other end, another Wilson long-range attempt looped up off a Black Cats shirt, but the visitors were looking to make their man advantage count and, 15 minutes into the second half, they took the lead.
Collecting the ball from Sessegnon, McClean powered forward and, having evaded Andy Wilkinson and Ryan Shawcross, slotted it past Thomas Sorensen.
Delap tried to make a swift response but lashed a shot off target and, after Mignolet survived spilling a long throw from the midfielder, Walters put an effort high and wide.
Stoke continued to press, with Crouch's header being caught by Mignolet.
The goalkeeper then got down to save an angled effort from Fuller.Wilson's deflected shot earned a corner towards the end, but it went unconverted as Sunderland emerged triumphant.
|Stoke City||Team Statistics||Sunderland|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||1|
|3||Shots off Target||3|
|51.1||1st Half Poss.||48.9|
|48.9||2nd Half Poss.||51.1|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|