Sunderland don't do easy victories these days but this afternoon's performance was about as good as we're gonna get with the men and boys available at Chris Coleman's disposal. Jake Clarke-Salter and Ethan Robson were the pick of the bunch as the Black Cats beat Hull City.
A second win in 24 home matches lifts Sunderland off the foot of the table in what was a pretty decent display all things considered. The Black Cats haven't won comfortably at the Stadium of Light since today's visitors from Humberside last came to town and were beaten 3-0 in November 2016 - and so it proved again today.
But Sunderland played well enough this afternoon and weathered a late onslaught from the visitors to romp to a single-goal victory. Here's our first thoughts on Sunderland 1 Hull City 0.
Clarke-Salter looks the part
Jake Clarke-Salter's first appearance at the Stadium of Light proved a decent debut for the Chelsea prospect on loan until the end of the season. The 19-year-old had done okay in the first half last weekend at Cardiff before faltering along with the rest of his teammates as Neil Warnock's cloggers turned the screw in the second.
Much better today, JCS was the pick of Sunderland's trio of centre-backs - putting in an assured display coupled with some last ditch rearguard action as Hull pressed for a late equaliser. Clarke-Salter showed an awareness which will bode well as he establishes himself in Chris Coleman's three-man back line and looked strong in the air.
Ethan Robson earns a first team berth
A superb performance by Houghton-le-Spring's finest, Ethan Robson, this afternoon. The 21-year-old looked every bit a player who can step into Darron Gibson's injured shoes at the heart of the Sunderland midfield.
Composed and tidy, Robson's energy levels and tenacity in the middle elevated his performance to really make an impact on the game. Proved an excellent foil for Lee Cattermole alongside him and Coleman may have stumbled upon a midfield pairing which can work as we progress to the business end of the season. Could have scored late on to really cap a memorable afternoon.
Joel Asoro repaid Chris Coleman's faith in handing him a first start of the season. Pace caused Hull's back-line a problem all afternoon and he took his goal superbly latching onto George Honeyman's through ball.
The Swedish U21 international's emergence into the first team is most welcome in a position which has been a problem all season with Duncan Watmore ruled out and Callum McManaman proving incapable of forcing his way into the side regularly.
Bad day for the old boys
Sunderland old boys David Meyler and Frazier Campbell should have gotten themselves on the scoresheet and Seb Larsson went close a couple of times in the second half. The former had roughly the best chance of the afternoon only to smash his shot straight at Robbin Ruiter from about six yards out in the dying minutes.
Hull were terrible in the first half and up against a Sunderland side which has been one of the worst in the Championship this season you would put money on them going down ahead of us on this afternoon's showing.
Whatever issues the Black Cats may have had in the middle of the park this season with injuries and the poor form of Ndong and Cattermole, it seems Seb Larsson's summer exit wouldn't have eased them any. Effort and the odd set-piece are all he ever offered here, and so he continues - huffing away for Hull.
Birmingham game looks a big 'un
With a bit of luck, Chris Coleman will have a selection of new recruits to pick from when Sunderland travel to Birmingham City in ten days time for part two of the current pair of six-pointers. Brum were held by Preston this afternoon as were Bolton at Ipswich.
With Burton thumped 6-0 at Brentford, today's win has tightened up the bottom section of the Championship nicely and third bottom Sunderland are now only four points off Reading up in 18th place. Today's result is a big win but building on it against Birmingham could be massive.