Echo Jury: Richard Smith reflects on Saturday’s hard-earned win at Stoke City

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WHAT a result. In horrific conditions, we battled through to the last minute to claim three great points that keeps us eighth and closes the gap on sixth and seventh.

That’s our first double of the season and avenges our defeat at the Britannia last season.

It wasn’t a classic by any means, the snow on the pitch it made it virtually impossible to play any football.

I thought that would play into Stoke’s hands, but we don’t have the fourth-best defence in the league for no reason and once again we stood firm, with O’Shea and Turner colossal at centre-back and Kieran Richardson putting in a fantastic display at left-back for the second game running. For me, he was man of the match.

Sessegnon worked hard up front but it was never likely to be a game he would be able to show what he could do, instead it was James McClean who was the difference with a fantastic run and piece of skill to get free in the box before calmly slotting past Sorenson.

It sets us up nicely for the Boro game on Wednesday where you would expect to see FC9 return.

To read more of the Echo Jury, please see tonight’s Sunderland Echo.