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’ 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.
* Full report and pictures in tonight’s Football Echo