Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
Match Rating: 2
On a cold but bright and sunny afternoon - a tad too sunny having to face the direct sun from where I was sitting - this match unfortunately very much played down to expectations. Competitive throughout, neither team really looked like scoring, certainly not in the first half.
The second half had marginally more action, although the game was delayed for around five minutes whilst the Stoke defender, Marc Wilson, was carried off on a stretcher with a broken leg. As the half wore on, Stoke did increasingly look to take the initiative and created some reasonable chances and Sunderland had their keeper, Simon Mignolet, to thank for keeping a clean sheet. Sunderland barely had a chance on goal throughout the 90 minutes, although they were denied a penalty when a goalbound shot from Stephen Fletcher hit Robert Huth's hand. The referee decided however that handball was unintentional. Stoke had their best chances in the last ten minutes of normal time, but in truth, one had the feeling that if the referee had played 80 minutes of added on time instead of 8, still neither team would have scored.
So a disappointing outing to a very poor advert for Premier League football, where even the Stoke support, renowned for generating an excellent atmosphere, were generally quiet - unsurprising with the lack of entertainment and attacking endeavour on the pitch.