Phil Smith analysis: Belated Sunderland revival frustrating but much deserved for magnificent away support

Ndong was excellent in the Sunderland midfield
Ndong was excellent in the Sunderland midfield
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The game ended with the strains of a familiar chant, a staple of the Sunderland songbook, drifting from the away end.

'We're on our way, on our way, to the Premier, we're on our way'. It had been a day for gallows humour, for defiance. That chant was certainly tongue in cheek, but it is a reminder of what the atmosphere can be at the club should it find a way to get on a roll next season.

There had only been one muffled chant for David Moyes' departure, for the most part it was a celebration of Jordan Pickford, quite simply magnificent, a determination to make the best of a meaningless game.

Nothing has changed in the bigger picture, really.

Doubts about the current incumbent's suitability for the role will not abate merely because of a win a week after the drop was confirmed. Questions will also be understandably raised as to why the performance improved with the bigger picture already settled.

A shop window performance, many will say. Perhaps.

Nevertheless, it was an important day in the sense that at the very least, a step was taken back to the fans who will be so important to the club's future.

It was a surreal game, Hull crumbling under the pressure, unfortunate with referee decisions but certainly always at risk of throwing away Marco Silva's remarkable home record.

Sunderland, without a headed goal all season, opened the scoring through a diving header from Billy Jones of all people.

It was all, many said, fairly typical Sunderland.

An important performance from Jordan Pickford, too. One that simply confirmed what many have known, that there is quite simply no ceiling to his talents. His distribution was outstanding, if not always exploited by team-mates. His command of the box was fearless and mature beyond his years. His reflexes and shot-stopping simply sensational.

If the vultures are circling then a premium will surely have to be paid. His name was roared from the travelling support throughout.

George Honeyman was given a big opportunity and he took it, not always finding the end product but always showing for the ball, always industrious.

There was flickers of something better, an improved performance, a wonderful travelling support that recalled great away days of years gone by.

Major questions remain, over the manager and the future of the club.

This was a win that frustrates as much as elates, a sense of what might have been, a further reminder of the similar opportunities that have been spurned in weeks and months gone by. The inquest into that is barely beginning, never mind a unifying verdict delivered.

At least, however, there was something, no matter how small, for the support to savour.

Much will have to be done before 'we're on our way' can be sung with true belief. It will be a rocky and potentially troublesome road, but there is sure to be a fine support every step of the way.