Ross Stewart effort hands Sunderland victory at Stoke
Ross Stewart hit his third goal of the season as Sunderland defeated Stoke 1-0 to move into the Championship top six.
The visiting Black Cats spent the majority of the opening period in their own half and had to wait 24 minutes to register their first shot.
Jacob Brown forced a miraculous stop from Anthony Patterson while the lively Lewis Baker also went close for the dominant Potters.
However, it was Alex Neil’s side who snatched what proved to be an unassailable lead when Stewart struck moments before the interval.
Despite Stoke’s best efforts in the second period, they failed in their pursuit of a leveller and saw their winless run stretch to four games in all competitions.
Michael O’Neill’s outfit started promisingly, buoyed on by the arrival of Manchester City youngster Liam Delap who joined on a season-long loan in midweek.
The 19-year-old – son of Stoke icon and coach Rory Delap – threatened an early opener to mark his debut in style.
His strike partner Brown came close to converting a scintillating half-volley, but a backpedalling Sunderland stopper Patterson did tremendously to tip over.
An in-form Patterson was required to preserve the deadlock, frustrating both Brown and Lewis Baker in quick succession in a busy opening to the tie.
The Black Cats had their first shot shortly before the half hour mark when Ellis Simms fired marginally wide of the target from an acute angle.
Despite the home side’s domination in a one-sided first half, it was the visitors who took the lead moments before the whistle through their talismanic Scot.
Stewart latched onto a delightful Jack Clarke floated pass and raced through on goal before despatching beyond Joe Bursik, who could have done better on second viewing.
The Potters responded positively after the restart and had a golden opportunity to level the scoring through Phil Jagielka.
However, the veteran defender – who turned 40 this month – opted to head an inviting Jordan Thompson delivery back across goal rather than at the target.
A frustrated Stoke side lacked the cutting edge in the final third and the aforementioned Simms tried to capitalise in a bright second half display.
The on-loan Everton forward – joint top scorer in the division with three goals – found himself in a promising position but dragged his strike narrowly beyond the near post in front of the 2,605 travelling supporters.
Former Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle wriggled beyond the Sunderland defence and nearly prodded home a late leveller, but the visitors remained resolute to hold on.
The result means Stoke have only one victory from their opening five league games, while the Black Cats’ haul of eight points is enough to lift them into the top six.
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