Sunderland club chaplain's prayers are answered - as Black Cats edge closer to relegation salvation
Sunderland's club chaplain has hailed the 'power of prayer' - after a vital win over Norwich City moved the club a step close to securing relegation salvation.
City priest Father Marc Lyden-Smith composed a special prayer ahead of the Black Cats' crunch clash with the Canaries at Carrow Road on Saturday.
His unstinting faith in the Sunderland squad - many of whom he speaks to during mass at the Academy of Light - was rewarded with an impressive win that has given the team fresh hope of survival.
Fr Marc, who is priest at St Mary's Church, in Sunderland, says the struggling side would have been 'digging their own Premier League graves' if they had come back from East Anglia empty-handed.
But now his prayers have been answered he is looking forward to a bright future for the Wearside outfit - safe in the hands of their goalkeeper.
Fr Marc said: "It shows the power of prayer.
"The players were fantastic - I am over the moon.
"Vito Mannone was sensational.
"He kept us in it in the first half before we came into our own.
"It was a great team performance.
"They showed they understand the passion of the city and what it means to the area.
"They have got the heart."
Fr Marc believes the Sunderland have the quality and determination to avoid the drop - but a little bit of divine intervention can only help.
He added: "Prayer always helps.
"If we had lost we would've been digging our own Premier League graves.
"Instead we are planting seeds for the future - and it is looking bright.