Wickham (4)
Fletcher (23)
Fletcher (79)
  • 04 October 2014
  • Stadium of Light (42,713)
  • Premier League
Stoke City
Adam (15)
  • Report
  • Line Up
  • Statistics
Sunderland's search for their first win of the season finally ended in a hard-earned victory against Stoke at the Stadium of Light. It also ended the drought of goals from the team's two main strikers, who bagged all three in what turned out eventually to be a comfortable 3-1 result.

It was a bold decision by Gus Poyet to pair Steven Fletcher with Connor Wickham by dropping Adam Johnson to the bench, while bringing in Jordi Gomez for his first league start at the expense of Jack Rodwell. Another surprising decision, though merited, was Santiago Vergini keeping out Wes Brown from the centre of Sunderland's defence.

The Uruguayan head coach said that he had a specific plan for the game that was reflected in his selection. It soon reaped dividends in the first five minutes as Fletcher bustled his way down the right-side of the penalty box to float over a centre for Wickham to out-muscle former player Phil Bardsley to head home. It made up for the one he missed last weekend against Swansea.

The lead though only lasted nine minutes as Sunderland fell asleep when Stoke took a quick free-kick in their own half. Just before he was injured, Victor Moses laid a ball up to Charlie Adam, who levelled the scores with a shot through the legs of John O'Shea in a series of woeful defending. But there was to be no repetition of the League Cup exit when Stoke came back from an early goal to defeat the Black Cats 2-1 ten days earlier.

In the 22nd minute, it was Fletcher's turn to score his first goal in 2014, heading home from the centre of the box into the bottom right corner. The assist came from Gómez in a cross following a short corner. It was the accomplishment no doubt from practice on the training ground and a lead which Sunderland managed to retain for the first time this campaign until half time.

The game never really flowed with neither team fully in control. It was riddled with sloppy passing and lost possession with each side depending largely on counter attacking but which had rendered Stoke so far unbeaten away from home this season. In the second half continued to ebb and flow though with the opposition in the ascendency seeking an equalise,r but never proving a great threat to Sunderland's not-always confident defence.

Tactical substitutions were made by Poyet proved fruitful to shore up the precarious lead. It was not until the 79th minute that the victory looked assured and again it involved Sunderland's two strikers who were kept on the field. It was Wickham's turn to become provider in a mazy bustling run, putting the ball across the five yard box. Up stepped Fletcher to fire home after substitute Jack Rodwell was unable to reach it.

Without any previous wins on the board, the victory hopefully will prove a much needed boost to the team's confidence ahead of the international break and a tough sequence of matches coming up at the SoL. It has come two games earlier than the disastrous start last season and it provides Poyet with a nice present as he marks his first anniversary at the club next week. But it remains one to be built upon with much work is still required to keep Sunderland above the relegation quagmire.

Vito Mannone
John O'Shea
Santiago Vergini
Billy Jones
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Patrick van Aanholt
Card (67)
Lee Cattermole
Sebastian Larsson
Jack Rodwell (71)
Jordi Gomez
Liam Bridcutt (71)
Will Buckley
Adam Johnson (60)
Connor Wickham
Goal (4)
Steven Fletcher
Card (70)
Goal (23) Goal (79)

Costel Pantilimon
Wes Brown
Liam Bridcutt
Jordi Gomez (71)
Jack Rodwell
Sebastian Larsson (71)
Charis Mavrias
Adam Johnson
Will Buckley (60)
Jozy Altidore
Asmir Begovic
Marc Wilson
Ryan Shawcross
Phil Bardsley
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Marc Muniesa
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Steven N'Zonzi
Glenn Whelan
 Bojan (70)
Charlie Adam
Goal (15)
Victor Moses
Oussama Assaidi (18)
Marko Arnautovic
Peter Crouch
Jonathan Walters (78)

Thomas Sorensen
Robert Huth
Erik Pieters
Stephen Ireland
Oussama Assaidi
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Victor Moses (18)
Jonathan Walters
Peter Crouch (78)
Card (90)
Glenn Whelan (70)
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