Sunderland v Fulham: Games from the past

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet.
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SUNDERLAND take on Fulham this evening hoping to secure a place in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

We’ve taken a look back through the archives at a few previous meetings between the two sides.

Fulham 1-4 Sunderland: January 2014

For a side who endured two miserable runs of form last season, such as the culmination of a singular point from their first eight games and a nine-game winless run from February to April, Gus Poyet knew that his side needed to go on little runs of their own if they were to have any hope of avoiding the drop.

It was hailed as one of the most important fixtures of the season when bottom-of-the-table Sunderland travelled to Craven Cottage in January of last year. Despite just a few points separating the ten clubs in the bottom half of the league, the encounter was already being billed as a relegation six-pointer.

A win for the Cottagers would see them move eight points clear of Gus Poyet’s men, and leave the Wearsiders in danger of being cut adrift in the race for survival.

If many were expecting a tight, edgy affair between two nervous sides, they were soon to be disappointed. By the final whistle, the stadium was half-empty bar a small section of shell-shocked Fulham supporters who had just witnessed their team’s inadequacies ruthlessly exposed.

A curling free-kick from Adam Johnson after 29 minutes had put the Black Cats ahead, before Ki Sung-Yeung’s low drive put them in control before half-time. Steve Sidwell’s header in the early second half proved to be nothing but a consolation, as Johnson doubled and then trebled his tally for the day with a drilled effort and a penalty late on.

Sunderland 2-2 Fulham: March 2013

For Martin O’Neill, he would only be afforded two more months in charge of his boyhood club, but this mid-table clash with Fulham was symptomatic of the apathy that was rife within the side at the time.

The 2-2 draw left the club sitting six points above the relegation zone, stretching the Black Cats’ winless run to five games.

The supporters would have to wait another five games to win another one, although the venue and result will live long in the memory - 3-0 at St. James’ Park.

Bulgarian talisman Dimitar Berbatov’s contentious penalty gave the Cottagers an early lead, before defender Sascha Riether extended the lead with a fierce drive. With a frustrated home crowd growing restless, the Black Cats pulled a goal back through a Craig Gardner penalty.

Danny Graham, the self-confessed Newcastle fan, was making his first start since a £5m switch from Swansea City and was subjected to endless boos and jeers from a home crowd who made their feelings on his transfer abundantly clear.

The home side were nearly subjected to their fourth straight defeat when Dimitar Berbatov wasted a gilt-edged opportunity in front of goal, moments before Stephane Sessegnon struck the equaliser with twenty minutes remaining.

Sunderland 0-1 Fulham: August 2013

Sunderland supporters were seemingly prepared to overlook the infantile antics of Paolo Di Canio ahead of the 12-13 season.

They were ready to look past the six goals that his side had conceded at Villa Park the previous April, and the plethora of unheard players that were being shepherded into the club during the summer. That is the level of good fortune that a 3-0 mauling of Newcastle United will earn a manager within their first two weeks in the job.

Following a limp 1-0 reversal at home to Fulham on the opening day of the season, however, the optimism quickly evaporated. The ostracised Phil Bardsley could hardly contain his uncontrollable glee via Twitter, as Sunderland’s five debutants offered no signs that they might be an improvement on the squad.

The game itself was a dull and forgettable one. Ondrej Celustka almost burst the net for the home side, but his 25-yard effort was saved by Maarten Stekelenburg in the Fulham goal. That was as good as it got for the Black Cats, however, as Pajtim Kasami rose highest to nod in the only goal early in the second half.

The hosts had dominated for large periods, but with the likes of Cabral, Stephane Sessegnon and Jozy Altidore toiling in front of goal, it proved to be all huff and no puff.