Bottom-two crunch as Sunderland head to Stoke: The last six meetings in the Potteries

Sunderland fans celebrate Jermain Defoe's late equaliser in last season's 1-1 draw at Stoke. Picture by Frank Reid

Sunderland fans celebrate Jermain Defoe's late equaliser in last season's 1-1 draw at Stoke. Picture by Frank Reid

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Sunderland head to the Bet365 Stadium today, seeking three precious points to bolster their push for Premier League survival.

The Wearsiders have a poor record away to Stoke, with only five wins in the last 31 top-flight visits to the Potters’ stadium and its predecessor, the Victoria Ground.

However, Sunderland picked up a big point at Stoke late in each of the last two seasons to help stave off the threat of relegation, and secured all three points back in 2012, when James McClean bagged the only goal.

Here we look back on the last six trips to the Potteries.

April 30, 2016: Stoke City 1 Sunderland 1

Jermain Defoe’s last-gasp penalty wasn’t sufficient to keep Sunderland out of the relegation zone, yet the point at Stoke proved to be priceless for the Black Cats.

Newcastle’s victory over Crystal Palace propelled the Magpies out of the bottom three and sent Sunderland back into it, but the Wearsiders’ 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium still felt like a bonus for Sam Allardyce’s men after a rotten display.

It was as poor a performance as Sunderland have produced since Allardyce was able to freshen the squad in the January transfer window, with the Black Cats showing no attacking conviction or seriously testing rookie keeper Jakob Haugaard.

Stoke took advantage of some soft Sunderland defending when Marko Arnautovic opened the deadlock early in the second half, albeit the visitors were protesting about a foul on Younes Kaboul in the build-up.

But Sunderland got out of jail in stoppage time when Defoe was brought down in the area and he stepped up himself to convert to send the travelling fans wild.

April 25, 2015: Stoke City 1 Sunderland 1

Sunderland dropped into the relegation zone for only the second time all season, despite picking up a point at Stoke.

The Black Cats fell to third-bottom in the table, a point adrift of safety, after wins for fellow strugglers Leicester and Hull sucked Dick Advocaat’s men into the bottom three.

That came despite a determined effort from Sunderland at the Britannia Stadium in a hugely absorbing 1-1 draw, where the Black Cats couldn’t profit from their second-half chances.

Connor Wickham’s first-minute goal had given Sunderland the dream start, but after Jermain Defoe had spurned a golden chance to double the advantage, Charlie Adam drew Stoke level with a scorching shot.

Stoke deserved to be level after a 100mph 45 minutes, but, in a more sedate second half, Sunderland had the better of it, yet Defoe, Wickham and Billy Jones couldn’t take the chances which came their way.

In the end, Sunderland were indebted to two stunning saves from Costel Pantilimon to earn a share of the spoils.

November 23, 2013:Stoke City 2 Sunderland 0

Ten-man Sunderland succumbed to a fifth successive defeat away from home after suffering a refereeing horror show from Kevin Friend.

Leicestershire-based official’s decision to hand fit-again Wes Brown a straight red card completely overshadowed the 2-0 loss at fellow strugglers Stoke City after the former England international was shockingly dismissed for what appeared a thoroughly fair first-half challenge on Charlie Adam.

That fourth sending-off of the season for Sunderland gave them an uphill task after Adam had given the hosts the lead against the run of play.

Gus Poyet’s side pushed valiantly for a leveller in the second half, but their hopes of a point were ended in the 81st minute when Steven Nzonzi doubled the Potters’ advantage.

Peter Crouch fed the ball in behind the Sunderland defence with a well-weighted pass for Nzonzi, who lifted it carefully over the advancing Vito Mannone.

October 27, 2012: Stoke City 0 Sunderland 0

Sunderland made it six draws in their first eight games of the season, but should have been handed a penalty in a stalemate at the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke, who also secured their sixth draw, arguably just about had the edge, but they survived a big penalty shout when Robert Huth handled a Stephen Fletcher shot.

Appeals were waved away to leave Martin O’Neill’s side with just one win in 16 Premier League matches going back to the end of the previous season.

Sunderland keeper Simon Mignolet ensured a well deserved clean sheet with an excellent double save to defy Charlie Adam and centre-back Ryan Shawcross in the sole highlight of a dreadful first half.

Huth forced Mignolet into another late save, while Michael Kightly passed up a glorious chance deep in stoppage time for the hosts.

February 4, 2012: Stoke City 0 Sunderland 1

James McClean’s third goal of the season ensured Sunderland’s resurrection continued with a fifth win in six after scrapping out a 1-0 success at 10-man Stoke City.

Blizzard snow ruined any prospect of the game as a spectacle with both sides struggling to muster meaningful efforts on goal.

But McClean’s strike on the hour mark proved the difference between the two sides after the left winger latched onto Stephane Sessegnon’s flick, dinked the ball inside Ryan Shawcross and admirably managed to stay on his feet before slotting it under former Sunderland keeper Thomas Sorensen.

Earlier, the turning point of the game had arrived on the stroke of half-time when ex-Middlesbrough defender Robert Huth was handed a straight red card by referee Martin Atkinson for a reckless lunge on Sunderland midfielder David Meyler.

Stoke were forced to withdraw Jermaine Pennant as a consequence and the Potters struggled to supply their strikers with sufficient service – even the danger of Rory Delap’s long-throws suffering in the conditions.

Tony Pulis’s men pushed for a late equaliser, but Black Cats keeper Simon Mignolet was never seriously tested.

Victory took Sunderland’s tally under Martin O’Neill to 22 points from 10 games.

February 5, 2010: Stoke City 3 Sunderland 2

Sunderland stayed in sixth place as Robert Huth notched a late double to lead Stoke home by the odd goal in five at the Britannia Stadium.

Steve Bruce’s men, sitting on 37 points from 25 games, went ahead after just two minutes as Kieran Richardson smashed home a low Phil Bardsley cross.

Norwegian striker John Carew equalised, despite looking to be in a clear offside position, but Sunderland impressed and regained the lead when Asamoah Gyan outmuscled Robert Huth to get on the end of a Sulley Muntari pass and beat keeper Asmir Begovic.

But two goals in the final seven minutes from centre-back Huth gave Stoke an unlikely victory.

Jermaine Pennant’s free-kicks created the havoc, with the first being swung in for Huth to burst through to poke home.

Then, in injury time, he slid home a looping Pennant centre to leave Bruce furious.

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