The Black Cats maintained their fine form under Martin O'Neill with another victory at a snowbound Britannia StadiumSunderland defeated a frustrated Stoke City side 1-0 in a game that also saw Robert Huth see a straight red in the first half.
The result sees the Potters with just one win in eight games in the league and their top-half position threatened by the likes of Swansea and Norwich.
Sunderland meanwhile reinforce their status in the top 10 and under Martin O’Neill now have an impressive 22 points from a possible 30.
The game began very tepidly, with neither side particularly testing the other and the battle for possession ensued for at least the opening 20 minutes as both sets of players tried to adapt themselves to the adverse conditions.
Inevitably Stoke had chances to threaten from set-pieces, but the Potters were well matched by their Sunderland counterparts. Cameron Jerome felt the force of the Black Cats defence during two of these dead-ball situations and the latter eventually led the former Birmingham man to be replaced by Ricardo Fuller.
Early bath | Robert Huth receives his marching orders at the Britannia Stadium
Sunderland did push to some degree in an attempt to break the deadlock, with Stephane Sessegnon and Craig Gardner both making efforts on goal, but neither could force action out of Thomas Sorenson
As the break loomed, both teams looked to be heading into the dressing rooms with not much to say about the half. However, a harsh challenge on David Meyler saw Stoke defender Robert Huth handed an immediate red card from referee Martin Atkinson and left the hosts finishing the first 45 minutes on the back foot.
A goal from almost nowhere for Sunderland graced the game after an hour played. A through ball from Sessegnon found McLean inside the area, the midfielder stumbled under pressure from Ryan Shawcross, but steadied his feet enough to slot past Thomas Sorenson.
The rest of the game played out much like the first-half, with both sides frustrating the other with strong tackling and good positioning at set-pieces defensively.
Stoke pushed at the death with a flurry of corners, but a lack of conviction in their delivery saw them end the game flustered and with just one win in eight league games.
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