This wasn’t a day to be late. And it wasn’t one to be nipping off early to the pub either. Goals in the 2nd and 90th minutes moved Sunderland into the automatic promotion places for the first time this season and kept the pressure up on those around us. Perhaps Keanes philosophy of time keeping needs to betaken on by some of the crowd however – a good number will have seen neither goal today, such is the choice of arrival and departure times at the SoL. Their loss however.
On the face of it, this was a home banker. Hull are scrapping for their lives and despite getting good results recently including beating Birmingham, a good performance and 3 points was at least expected. Things looked in good shape after 2 minutes when a Dean Whitehead free-kick was headed in by Jonny Evans to put Sunderland 1 up. As good a delivery and header as it was, Hull were all over the place and there were 3 Sunderland players queuing up to stick it in. Evans’ first goal for us was good reward for a string of fine performances this year.
Wild thoughts of cricket scores and routs sprung to mind but we’re not that good yet and Hull aren’t that bad. Initially Hull came back into it before the beginnings of a fairly even and scrappy game ensued. Hull often got as far as the 18 yard box but no further and our best chances came from breakaways with Whitehead, Murphy and Connolly often linking up well but the final ball was always lacking the bit of quality needed. Stokes, who was brought back in today played on the right of a 5 man midfield with Murphy on the other side. Playing this way gives different options but too many times we had plenty of players in wide positions and nobody in the middle but Connolly and maybe a midfield runner.
The best chance to double the lead in the first half came once more to Jonny Evans whose header from a corner was superbly saved by the Hull keeper. Stokes more than once found himself with the ball in the box having cut inside but his over-eagerness to score led to shots going wide or blocked and good opportunities wasted.
Into the second half and it seemed strange that that early goal could be the only one of the game, however the openings Sunderland created lessened it seemed this would be the way. It was a fairly comfortable 1-0 lead however. At no stage in the game was Darren Ward tested and another great display by the back four, particularly Evans meant we didn’t really need to press for the 2nd. It should be said that the conditions didn’t help either. There was a gusty wind blowing across the ground which particularly affected high balls and seemed to disrupt some of the football.
As time ticked on, Stern John and Leadbitter came on to shore things up and despite the chance of an odd breakaway goal we never looked like creating too much.
The goal which wrapped the game up however was as bizarre and an easy a goal as we’ll see this season. As the ball was played back to their keeper he swung to kick it up field, sliced it straight to an unmarked John 30 yards out, who took it round said stricken keeper and stuck it in the empty net. A good finish to the game and it put a little gloss on a solid win and helps a little to our goal difference.
A 2 week break follows now until the next run of games which sees the Easter period follow shortly after and by the end of that we should have a good idea who is going to finish 2nd as the Sunderland juggernaut keeps charging upwards.
Man of the match – Jonny Evans
Report by marcopaul