Club Focus – Sunderland – Black Cats bounce back with win over Potters with Tottenham lying in wait

The wounded Black Cats pounced back to life on Saturday, as visiting Stoke City were left ruing missed chances and hard luck as Sunderland emerged 2-0 victors at the final whistle. The Wearsiders gave their fans hope that last week’s fog on the Tyne was nothing more than a blip, though a touch of good luck did bestow Steve Bruce’s men following Lee Cattermole’s controversial defending.

Stoke striker and former Sunderland star Kenwyne Jones thought he had equalized for the visitors in the second half when Cattermole attempted to head clear from his goal – only for the ball to seemingly strike his arm. The referee decided to reward Stoke’s efforts with a corner, much to the chagrin of many a visiting Potter. Manager Steve Bruce was understandably grateful for the otherwise solid defensive performance shown by Bardsley, Turner and co, and said post-match: “We needed a bit of luck in the finish, but in the end it’s all about the result for me and the clean sheet is the most important thing. To be fair they defended with their lives. We got a bit of luck which we needed. I think their smallest player is bigger than our biggest one!

Asamoah Gyan meanwhile made his first start for the Mackems since his £13m move from Rennes, scoring the brace which proved decisive for the hosts. Bruce was delighted with the Ghanaian’s contribution, the Sunderland manager telling BBC Sport: “The one thing you are wanting is a response, and our record signing has given us that.” His counterpart Jones, however, could be forgiven for feeling more than a little aggrieved at his return to the North East after almost pulling the struggling visitors level. Stoke were then reduced to 1- men after Ryan Shawcross was sent off eight minutes from time for a second bookable offence with the score at 1-0, but Stoke never truly recovered and surrendered to a Sunderland side who have not lost at home this season bar the Carling Cup exit to West Ham in September.

Impressive right-back Phil Bardsley, meanwhile, has penned a new contract at Sunderland after impressing manager Steve Bruce. The former Manchester United youngster said: “I’m delighted to be able to stay. Talks have been ongoing over the last couple of weeks and I’m really pleased to be here for the next three and a half years. It’s a club which I enjoy being at, I love living up here, the lads and everything about being here. Being part of the manager’s plans is great and I’m enjoying my football.

Manager Bruce must be prepared for his much-praised defence to travel to London on Tuesday, as the Black Cats visit White Hart Lane and a Tottenham Hotspur side who are looking to bounce back from a 4-2 defeat at Bolton Wanderers’ Reebok Stadium this weekend. Spurs, of course, defeated European champions Inter at White Hart Lane last week, so Bruce’s men face a stern mental challenge if they are to bring the points back to the North East come Wednesday morning.

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